Seven Risks of Being a Social Business

A social business usually means a holistic approach and way of doing customer-centric business. However there are also risks of labeling yourself as a social business. A social business is not an end goal, but a means to a resilient, agile customer-centric organization. Read below what the seven risks are of labeling yourself as a social business.

Bernie Borges describes his five risk of becoming a social business as following:

Lack of Experience

Generally speaking a business should have not less than three years experience with social media to consider itself a social business. Just like we go through a maturation process before we’re ready for certain responsibilities in our careers, likewise a business needs to mature in its use of social media. It takes about three years for an organization to think strategically about how “social” is strategic to the business.

Gianluigi: not sure if the timing aspect is neccesary, I would say that experimentation is key to understand where the opportunities lie for the business, fast integration is not neccesarily a long-term thing, also if you get expertise from the outside.

Lack of Executive Support

When the top executives in an organization do not support being social, it’s not possible for it to be a social business. The culture of a social business has to become part of its DNA. Companies like Dell, Lowes, IBM and many others whose names are not as well recognized are strategically social because their CEO has embraced social for internal and external business value.

Gianluigi: executives need to embrace and provide top-down commitment. Other than that they need to facilitate, not direct.

Lack of Employee Ambassadors

In a social business, marketing is not a department. Certain employees with subject matter expertise embrace the opportunity to contribute their expertise through content and social engagement. When certain employees become brand ambassadors and participate in engagement both with other employees and externally with people who engage the brand, these employees share a branding phenomenon that benefits both the employee and the corporate brand.

Gianluigi: this is maybe the hardest one. How do you keep consistency and coherence in your conversations, and people have habits that are hard to change. That’s why co-creation is important, to achieve bottom-up empowerment and interest as an organization and senior management you need to co-create the social business shift.

Low Quality Content

Content is a pre-requisite to being a social business simply because it is the currency that engages people throughout the value chain of a business. However, an organization who doesn’t plan their content strategy using best practices to produce relevant content risks producing low quality content. Content for the sake of content is not the answer to being a social business. A relevant content strategy doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all digital marketing plan. Detailed analysis of personas and keywords that align with personas should drive the content plan. A content calendar with assignments to subject matter experts is a staple in any social business.

Lack of Social Technology Investment

A social business cannot execute their plans or measure progress without proper tools. Social business tools include solutions for scheduling, management, analysis and measurement. A lack of investment in social business tools is like trying to dig a ditch with a spoon. Social business tools are understood as an investment in the daily management and measurement of progress for a social business.

Gianluigi: both the low quality content and lack of social technology investment are viable risks. It’s people first, content second and then technology. Too often social business is reasoned from a technology perspective.

The three risks I add are the following:

Lack of right Culture

You can’t label yourself and be(come) a true social business if your culture is bureaucratic, too much top-down, directive and what more. There needs to be a genuine culture of sharing, learning and accountability. This relates to the aforementioned “Lack of Executive Support” but I see it slighty different because it are not just the people that need to embrace it, it’s the whole living organism which needs to be transformed.

Lack of Skills

Engagement and collaboration are both at the essence of social business. But soft skills such as cross-functional communication, conflictmanagement, value selling, collaboration are not obvious and present. Be sure to train your employees on both hard and soft skills in order to actually have happy employees that want breathe and live a social business.

What other risk can you name?

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