The Social Conversation is STILL in its Infancy


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Now that we’ve all settled down a bit – and even some of the early evangelists have yanked back on the social media solves everything throttle – it’s time to have a frank discussion about what a thoughtful professional would do in the face of tempting new channels of engagement with their customers. Sure, there are a lot of great reasons to embrace social media possibilities in your business; but we can learn from the past what happens when new ideas are pursued in a vacuum. In a nutshell, you can actually cause more harm to your organization than good if you proceed to implement new ideas and processes without taking the larger picture into consideration.

As this IBM Midmarket Coffee+ Conversation video suggests, there are benefits to viewing yourself as a social business.

They talk about a lot of benefits that appear by using social media products; and we are left wanting as to how they are being used and whether they should always be used. The highlighted benefits include:

  1. Communication, problem resolution, sales are all faster and cheaper
  2. You can monitor your customers to better manage the relationship
  3. Tools help companies become more social and a social media ecosystem leads to better decisions

SAP is also promoting social as an accelerator of the sales process. Is this a always a good thing? Is your organization capable of handling this accelerated pace of sales (if it even works)? Is this even what your customers want? Should the conversation be about tools, or should it be about what differentiates your organization from your competitors, and how tools will help enable these capabilities. Take these three differentiators, for example:

  1. Operational Excellence
  2. Product Leadership
  3. Customer Intimacy

If you are an organization that competes based on innovation and product leadership, does closing deals more quickly and less expensively fit with the desired outcomes of your customers? Do organizations that set themselves apart by providing highly custom outcomes for customers need to monitor people on social media, or do they already have a close relationship? Do these customers expect quick and cheap?

The conversation around social media not only needs to address these categories of competitive difference, it needs to understand its proper place within the end-to-end business processes that support the objectives of the entire organization. Are technologists the right people to be leading this conversation? Too often, even outside the discussion of social media, sales and marketing organizations optimize themselves for their own convenience, motivation and measures and never take into consideration the goals of the organization; which we hope are aligned to the needs of its customers. And just as often, they defer to technologists to provide solutions to their perceived need for speed.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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