Social Strategy: The need to have a direction

I really should write this article after the Enterprise 2.0 Summit. Looking at the conference schedule you see titles like: Heading from Engagement to Passion in Future Work Performance, Key Factors for Strategic Enablement or Getting Social Aligned to Processes, and there are more examples. Putting all these together will give you a good and clear vision of what your Social Strategy should (or could) be.

And, when you visit the conference, you can always strike up a good conversation with one of the speakers or attendees to get just that little extra, or just that answer to a specific question.

Enough content marketing and our social media strategy.., back to the social (business) strategy.

That was a nice bridge, because when you google for ‘Social Strategy’ you’re faced with an abundance of social media strategies. Because, let’s face it, when you try and explain Social Business to an “outsider”, the link to Social Media is invariably made, at least when I do it.

Either because you need to touch on something the listener can relate to, or because you need to clarify the social aspect. And once you do, once you mention Facebook or Twitter (for whatever example), the connection is made and is sometimes irreversible.

In the end, I always seem to land on my feet though, and convey the general idea of Social Business to a listener. It often is a question of finding the right context or metaphor, the click is then easily made, most of the time.

So, a search for Social Business Strategy then, this provides much more interesting results. Let’s dig in:

According to Michael Brito, “A social business strategy can solve a variety of business challenges like better content, smarter marketing and more effective customer relationships”.

Although this statement still has a strong focus outward, as you can see, it’s still clear that Social Business touches every aspect of your business. Where Social Media is merely a tool, or a channel which changes over time and to which we need to adapt all the time. Social Business is a more permanent and fundamental entity. The Social (Business) Strategy, therefore, needs to be more intertwined with the core business as well.

As Jon Mell explained, the focus lies on providing business solutions through the use of social tools. Not the adoption of the software or the engagement among employees.
When problems are solved through the use of new tools, these tools, or processes will be adopted. When employees see direct results when using a social enterprise tool, they will accept and engage much easier.

Hence, your Social Strategy should focus on the long term support of business objectives and short term problem solving.

Easier said then done.

The Corner Office

When you are not in the top tier of the company, it’s difficult to implement company wide change. You can change the way you work, for sure. A colleague may be influenced, or when you’re really good, or a manager, you might change the way your department operates.
Anything beyond that takes an unrealistic amount of effort and time.

Securing executive support is the principal goal, without it, there really is no chance of making a long lasting difference. Not only do you need the proverbial green light from the C-suite, you really do need their actual support, translated in commitment, from them personally and through necessary resources (staff, funding).

For all intense and purposes, any large scale implementation should have executive support.

Alignement

The most integral way of implementing Social Business (and Social Media) is by aligning the efforts with the business goals. From here, the main course can be determined. Through smaller, incremental changes and adaptation, overall acceptance can be achieved.

The reason for defining your business goals and aligning these with your social efforts is broader than you might think.

It creates the possibility of embedding social into the business. Meaning, every decision and consequent action will have an impact on the overall social strategy. Whether this is the way Customer Care responds to an unfriendly tweet, or the way HR approaches a potential candidate, or the way an executive responds to a suggestion from an employee.

But, these are consequences of the main strategy. By enabling, well, everybody within the company, certain reactions can be predicted, and serendipity is more likely to occur.

Fundamental

Having a Social Strategy goes beyond the individual employee, beyond departments and beyond silos.

Of course, the overall business strategy determines the direction of the company, but the Social Strategy makes sure everything else is aligned. This includes all corporate communication and marketing, recruitment and personnel management, internal communication and innovation, and on the list goes.

It’s interesting to see, that when I first became aware of Social Business, the amount of people who knew about it was extremely limited. In the culture I worked then, a Social (Business) Strategy would be unthinkable, and it probably still is.

But, when realizing the impact social has on a business, combined with the need to move on. It’s hard to imagine that a company would not want to enable itself, to create a strategy which blankets the whole company and effectively propels said company into the future.

I’m looking forward to #e20s, to learn more about Defining the Leadership Model and Design of the 21st Century Organisation, Leading the Transformation and Change Process and Heading from Engagement to Passion in Future Work Performance. I will pay attention and probably write several posts about these inspiring subjects, creating more clarity on the how of Social Business.

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I'm a Social Business addict coming from the technical depths of IT and rising from these dark ages, through web and social, to the enlightened field of Social Business.
Also blogger, podcaster, talker and listener.


  1. Philip Sheldrake says:

    Rogier, I couldn’t agree more with your early references here to the very semantics of our discussion. I like to say that social media are the eggs in the social business cake. And the vast majority of posts about social ROI are simply nothing more than the ROI of social selling. Akin to saying the value of the telephone is only to be found in telesales!

    When one has the opportunity to outline the full vista (as I was fortunate to do recently at the 3M ThinkTank conference http://eulr.co/18MlS5S), I find you can’t stem people’s enthusiasm for defining and realising a better workplace.





  2. Bonnie Cheuk says:

    I resonate strongly with your point which stresses “Social Business touches every aspect of your business”, it is an opportunity to reflect on why managers/employees are doing what we are doing everyday, what has gone passed the sell by date, what has worked well and should be built on, what issues can be resolved by opening up lateral communication. This is not just for marketing team or executive comms team, it is an opportunity for operations, product, sales, innovation, research, HR etc to revisit the assumptions as to how they run the business today, and what are the transformation opportunities to improve employees and customers’ experiences which lead to positive business outcomes. I have outlined 13 practical use cases in my recent book titled “Social strategies in action: Driving business transformation”. I hope you find them useful. Tks for writing this blog post.
    http://bonniecheuk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/my-new-book-social-strategies-in-action.html

    • Rogier Noort Post author says:

      Thanks for stopping by and the additional info Bonnie. The 13 use cases is certainly an extensive list. Good luck with the book, it’s an impressive result.