How to Tap the Social Business Double Value Proposition outlines an efficient and rigorous process for using social business for digital transformation in two ways: social business itself can drive reputation, preference and profit, and it’s the fastest way to develop requirements for mobile, ecommerce and big data investments.
The social business double value proposition works because it discovers, engages and validates the organization’s understanding of stakeholder outcomes. Every organization’s crucial stakeholders have outcomes that they hope to attain by interacting with the organization or using its products or services. Developing deep and broad knowledge of stakeholder outcomes enables the organization to serve and quickly deepen their relationships with their stakeholders—by helping them attain their outcomes by collaborating online; moreover, since it opens fast and inexpensive communication and collaboration channels with them, it can create a continuous innovation process and sustainable advantage over rivals.
The Guide to Social Business Part2 shows how to maximize efficiency by using external and internal analyses to create and execute social business strategy, step by step. Then it outlines how to reuse the strategy for due diligence in mobile, ecommerce and big data projects. The Social Business Competency Center has even more resources.
Strategy Part One: The Ecosystem Audit
Strategy’s key value proposition is that it makes execution more efficient, effective and impactful. Social business strategy, when done well, enables firms to outperform during execution because they know where to interact to enhance their relationships with the optimal amount of effort. Social business is a marathon, so efficiency is key to winning.
The Ecosystem Audit is an external analysis that reveals the firm’s hottest planets in the online universe, as a function of two analytical “lenses,” stakeholders and workstreams. They create binocular vision. Since 2006, I have done social business strategy for numerous global brands, and all of them had been investing their social media budgets by interacting in the wrong places.
- Based on the business that is beginning social business, which could be the enterprise, a business unit or a brand, the team gets very specific about its stakeholders. Based on the business strategy, what people have the biggest impact? The team defines them as specifically as possible. Based on their characteristics, the team designs and iterates software programs to locate them online.
- Next, the team uses an analogous process for stakeholders’ workstreams, which are defined as processes they use to attain their outcomes that are relevant to the firm. For example, a medical device firm has a product that helps pregnant women determine whether they will be likely to have premature births. The outcome is having a healthy baby. Workstreams could be researching diet, medications, alternative medicine, lifestyle and other factors to increase the chance of a term birth. The workstream would probably include talking to family members, medical professionals and others, and talking about actions the woman, her husband and others take.
- By using stakeholder and workstream tools together, the team can quantitatively rank all sites (“venues”) on the social Web. Quantitative metrics are many; for example: interactivity, degree of network, conversation depth and visibility.
- The Ecosystem Audit’s final deliverable is a graphical map and report that highlights the force-ranked web in terms of the hottest places for interacting with the highest priority stakeholders about topics most relevant to the firm.
- More detail is available in The Digital Social Ecosystem Audit: The Key to Optimal Interactions.
Strategy Part Two: The Organization Audit
The Ecosystem Audit is exhilarating for firms because they see their most desirable stakeholders interacting most intensely in all kinds of venues, many of which they’ve barely heard of. They want to dive right in. But that is only half of the social business strategy. The Organization Audit is an internal analysis that assesses the firm in terms of Ecosystem Audit results. What distinct knowledge or expertise does the firm have that it can share most easily and that stakeholders will value most highly, in terms of their outcomes? Here is a summary of its key steps.
- It is important to note that what the firm shares should be unique and distinct in terms of its identity. Competitors and substitutes should be weaker in a substantial way in their ability to share similar things. The first step is a basic core competency analysis, which compares the firm’s strengths versus its competitors and substitutes.
- The next step drills down into workstreams in a more thorough process that involves surveying and interviewing stakeholders (Issues & Actions). Note that workstreams include offline and online steps; the team can be most relevant online when it has a firm grasp of the entire workstream.
- Then the team knits the results of these steps together. It overlays the firm’s most distinctive expertise and knowledge onto stakeholder Issues & Actions and creates conceptual social business Trial Pilots to deliver its distinct assets to stakeholders. They specify platform and basic methods.
- Then Organization Analysis qualifies Trial Pilots, using several lenses: the external web (“who has tried this concept before?”) its resources (“who do we have who has the skills and interest to be on a pilot team?”) and its organization (“What other initiatives would weaken or strengthen these pilots?” or “What organizational conflicts or synergies exist?” These lenses usually shift the priority of Trial Pilots, or eliminate some of them.
- The Social Business Organization Audit and Social Business Strategy has more information.
About Social Business Strategy
- The key organizing principle to social business strategy is that organizations will succeed in meeting their goals with fewer resources when they are most aligned with their crucial stakeholders. The easiest way to come into alignment is to directly address stakeholder outcomes that are relevant to the firm’s resources (and products and services). Here are some components of social business strategy.
- The purpose of the social business strategy is to focus the social business team and to build support within the organization for pilots. Therefore, it should be 20-30 slides, so it is easy for colleagues to understand. Each stage of the ecosystem and organization audits should be documented, so the team has excellent data that very few people have to see, but its external and internal due diligence is the foundation of its authority to lead the organization’s social business.
- The strategy summarizes the ecosystem and organization audits, and presents the sequence of the pilots and rationale. It proposes timelines, and describes each pilot in terms of concept, goals, procedures, interaction strategy and measurements. Assuming the team began with 6-10 candidates, it will probably have 4-6 now, so the strategy describes each on one slide.
- It is also important to summarize key aspects of social business management and governance, which include: Contributor training and mentoring, how relevant parts of the organization will collaborate on pilots (given they are small, usually one organization will lead, but peripheral areas may have supporting roles). It describes how the team proposes to manage social business pilots and their risk mitigation features. For example, using agile methodologies, scoping pilots small, short and specific. Tying explicitly to business strategy, having realistic staffing plans.
- Find more details at The Social Business Organization Audit and Social Business Strategy (Creating the Social Business Strategy section).
Execution refers to two “levels” that are pertinent here. The Enterprise Social Business Life Cycle has five phases, three of which fall into execution: Pilot, Scale and Integrate. In the context of social business strategy, execution refers to doing pilots that have two broad goals: to test the strategy and to build the team’s social business skills.
- The strategy has laid out the most efficient and impactful way to deepen relationships with stakeholders, as supported by its foundational reports and data. Pilots will put the due diligence to the test and measure the results.
- By interacting with stakeholders and measuring results in terms of changing trust and commitment, the team refines the strategy and its knowledge about what works and what doesn’t.
- Pilots use agile project management methods: they are short, they iterate in a structured way and they repeat.
- Pilot charters are key tools. They are 3-5 page project plans that specify goals, timelines, procedures, interaction strategy and measurement metrics that focus on changing trust.
- In most cases, the social business team will find it advantageous to staff pilots with volunteers, so staff templates are critical. Pilot teams usually involve three roles, Champion, Manager and Contributor, and each has a template. They include: pilot summary, goals (for that Contributor role), activities, performance measures, interaction strategy (for that Contributor role), actions and workstreams, time commitment/allocation and tools. The latter usually involve specialized searches for Contributors that are sharing content. By programming the searches for them, you drastically reduce their time commitment.
- Mentoring is vital. Very few people, even those who are facile with popular social platforms, understand the intricacies of interacting to increase trust and commitment. Most people are not explicitly aware of “social” skills, especially online.
- Moreover, each venue has its culture, conceptual body language and hierarchy of social actions. When team members explicitly understand these, they can interact with confidence.
Social Business as Due Diligence for Digital Transformation
- Social business pilots in themselves are very efficient in educating the team in stakeholders’ concerns, motivations, outcomes, personalities and relationships with others that relate to outcomes. When teams aim to interact to increase trust, the firm’s reputation increases quickly. The firm becomes preferred and profits rise.
- Social business reframes the firm, from a seller to a collaborator in users’ lives. Most firms, whether they offer products or services, are not accustomed to approaching stakeholders as individual people, so they focus on maximizing their sales and profits and put stakeholders second. Since digital networks have increased individuals’ influence, their advocacy is very powerful for driving firms’ sales and increasing competitiveness, but firms can only tap individuals’ networks by truly caring and showing their care consistently by serving individuals online. IBM’s global study of connected customers double underlines this point.
- Social business as outlined here provides the blueprint for Personal Individualized Experience across social venues, mobile and ecommerce interfaces, physical locations and others.
- Mobile and ecommerce are transactional interfaces to the firm, and both can have strong social elements since both increasingly have digital social functions. However, mobile is unique because devices tend to be individualized and travel with individuals, so they provide location information. To be profitable pieces of digital transformation, mobile and ecommerce must also serve users’ outcomes. As proposed here, social business, since it assesses and verifies in-depth understanding of user outcomes and motivations, can derisk mobile and ecommerce initiatives.
- The same effect is even more pronounced with big data & analytics because its typical investment profile is far riskier than mobile or ecommerce. Mobile initiatives tend to be smaller and shorter than ecommerce or big data. Ecommerce at most firms already has a large budget, which carries risks of its own; changing websites, which can be large and complex, can be very costly, where social business and mobile are most likely to have relatively blank slates at most firms. Big data & analytics require extended investment to develop or procure computing resources and build analytics. Potential “data” is infinite and growing quickly, so key to success is knowing what questions to “ask” the data and for which to design analytics. Social business will prove to be a critical enabler since it validates user motivations.
- Given the size of digital transformation initiatives, having explicit knowledge of stakeholder outcomes and the ability to interact with them, real-time, to test and validate design principles can have powerful impact on transformation’s success.
- Digital social technologies’ core function is communication, so the first people to use them for commercial purposes were public relations and marketing professionals. Commercial communicators imposed the patterns of their discipline on social technologies and set the context for most of the world: social media developed with a strong promotional and entertainment context. This is the “social media red herring” because it leads organizations astray. The core activity is communication, and promotion is only one of many purposes for communication.
- A critical step to appreciating the transformational potential of digital social technologies is starting at their foundation: communication. It is transformational to digitize the relationship life cycle. People, regardless of the activities they pursue, can find and collaborate with other people with the same interest. This becomes astounding in the context of specialized interests such as titanium ball berrings, Cantonese dialects, soufflés above 15,000 meters and algorithmic analysis of bank fraud.
- Actions speak louder than words. Talk is cheap. Firms’ marketing talks about how firms “care” for stakeholders like customers and employees. Few people believe them because many people and firms say one thing and do another. Consistent actions in public are far more convincing. That’s why the key to social technologies’ potential is found in serving stakeholders in public.
- However, firms, whether commercial, government, nonprofit or other, have limited resources. Social business strategy is a short cut to interacting optimally to create the impact the firm wants. A critical facet of social business transformation is culture change. Firms don’t usually trust the concept of serving people online until they start seeing results. Collaborators sell more at higher profits than hucksters. That fact provides pioneers extra time to build their leads over laggards.