Social Business – 10 Commandments Before You Start

Digital Marketing

Will Bosma, APAC Solution Consulting Director, Adobe Australia – LinkedIn, @wbosma

Before leaping into the journey of becoming a social business there are 10 ‘commandments’ that I believe an organisation must embrace or they should not start the journey at all – it will be a total waste of time, effort and money.

I don’t profess that these commandments are original – I have been highly influenced by some of the better practitioners in the field and have often used their advice before proceeding. But here is what I tell anyone today who says they wish to become a social business:

1. Social is about engagement and relationships – it is not about transactions. If you don’t understand this then don’t start. You have to focus and care as much about the 10th customer interaction as the first. This is not to say that results and ROI aren’t important – they are, but they take a while in coming. But you will never be a social business if you don’t understand relationships – a two way concept – is at the heart of everything you need to do.

2. Fit social into your business – not the other way around. The focus is to use social constructs and methods into your business processes where it makes sense. The focus is NOT to have Facebook in the enterprise. But it also means that you have to think about social beyond marketing – the entire customer journey experience is affected when you become a social business.

3. Fish where the fish are – don’t try to have a presence in every social network on the planet and don’t agree to a page or account for every product / department / business unit / branch / state / country / language in your business. Consider only those networks where you KNOW for a fact your customers already exist and are ACTIVE. And think carefully today about your presence needs – every page, every account has to be managed, moderated, filled with content and provide an engaging experience. If it doesn’t – get rid of it. This is a key part of what we call Social Architecture.

4. Social is not a Silo : if you do not connect your social efforts into your entire business it will fail to deliver the desired results. It’s part of a marketing mix – therefore social campaigns must include and link to websites, email, eDMs and newsletters. Your Twitter account for service must be part of a fully fledged service experience that includes any other service response mechanism. If your PR crises management plan doesn’t include social then it will likely fail you in an emergency. The customer experience is not linear and traverses many channels – they don’t work in silos and if you do you will fail. ‘Social everywhere it makes sense’ should be your mantra.

5. Engagement cannot be Outsourced : A pet peeve of mine! You can use your agency for monitoring, for creative, for campaign creation but if you use your agency to create your regular posts and to respond to engagement then you have two problems. The wrong agency (for accepting this practice) and the wrong attitude towards your customers. See point one above. I don’t care about your content calendars – if you don’t talk to your customers how can you hope to understand and serve them.

6. Social involves your entire Organisation : this is the biggest realisation for most companies and is mandatory to becoming a social business. You must focus even more internally than externally. You can’t exhibit the traits of transparency, engagement and collaboration which are central to success in social if your organisation is based on a command and control culture and set of processes. There is no Faking IT in social. And it is not only about marketing – it impacts HR, sales, marketing, service, product management, engineering and more.

7. Success requires Engagement without Fear : once you realise it’s more than marketing you must be prepared to put some basic rules and processes in place and then get out of the way and let your people at it. Everyone must have the choice to participate and its amazing what they can do for your brand, reach and revenue when they are let loose. Not to mention how your employee satisfaction, productivity and talent acquisition improves. Yes, the social channels are full of trolls, sideline commentators and idiots. So is the ‘real world’. Get over it and get involved.

8. Social is based on Sharing : this means not just sharing your product brochures endlessly or repeating your marketing messages over and over and over again. This is probably the biggest mistake that many organisations make. Social does provide an opportunity to tell the human stories behind your brand. After all, your customers want to deal with people. The obsession with being ‘on message’ is one that hurts many brands. And the social economy is based on reciprocity – you must share content of value from sources other than yourself if you are truly going to be perceived as a source of value in the social economy. I know it’s shocking but you are not the only one in the world with value to add.

9. Social is Not Ad Hoc : whilst the social networks may seem chaotic at first and it’s difficult to relate to your current processes you should approach it as you would any other other business initiative. You need to go through the process of creating your overall social business strategy based on a thorough process of research, evaluation  and review. You then need to associate goals, initiatives, priorities, programs, measurements, resources and activities. Social business is not an accident waiting to happen but well thought out piece of your corporate strategy. Plan it that way. A strategy for social media is not a social business strategy.

10. Social is Measurable : Anyone who tells you that you can’t measure your social initiatives and that ROI and social don’t go together needs to be escorted off your premises as soon as possible. Measurements should be at 3 levels – reach metrics such as friends, fans and followers. Engagement metrics such as comments, re-tweets, social shares, user generated posts and so on. And ROI on your social campaigns and activities. All levels of measurement are both important and possible.

And here is a bonus commandment that is perhaps the most important of all:


Nothing stays constant very long in a social business and to be successful you must be lean, agile and willing to change. You can’t have lengthy approval processes for responses to posts for example or your relevance to the story will evaporate entirely. The half life of a Facebook post is measured in minutes and a that of a Tweet is measured in seconds. Pinterest didn’t exist a year ago. Get rid of unnecessary overhead and go listen to your customers and engage.

Will B

Digital Marketing

Posted on 09-03-2012

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