Adobe Digital Dialogue

September 3, 2012 /Digital Marketing /

Social Business – 10 Commandments Before You Start

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

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