“social is more than the stuff the marketing team deals with. It’s something that allows organizations to do things entirely differently — if we let it become the backbone of our business models.”
Social – both in terms of businesses and technology – certainly deserves consideration beyond a piece of the marketing mix. But is it a fundamental shift in the way companies need to approach their business? Or just a short-term phase by which businesses have come to identify with consumers?
More and more I’m seeing the idea of social extending far beyond the marketing function within an organization. At a very base level, social success is achieved via transparency and dialogue – and these are things that can’t happen superficially. The companies that really excel are the ones that behave “socially” to their core. It’s not just a line item in a marketing plan – it is their plan.
Zappos is a great example of a company doing it well. Netflix is a social company – sure, they’ve made some missteps lately, but their likely rebound will be largely due to the way they embraced open dialogue to address their problems. In a sense, they had an honest conversation with their stakeholders, presented their case, heard the rebuttal, and adjusted accordingly.
Bank of America had a similar issue when they tried instituting a $5 fee for debit cards. They put something out there, the public reacted negatively, BoA took it back. But, the big difference I saw in the handling of those situations is that with Netflix I saw and heard directly from Reed Hastings, their CEO. I never heard from BoA’s CEO (see, I can’t even name him/her).
What’s the big deal you ask? Well, I still have my Netflix subscription. But I’m slowly migrating all of my banking away from BoA (to a combination of ING and Fidelity).
It’s not that a personal touch to communications will sway me. It’s that some companies operate knowing from the outset that they’ll make missteps and that it’ll be a constant touch and go with consumers – in a positive way. Others make blunders and try to backtrack and fix them. They didn’t anticipate consumer backlash or engagement, they simply reacted to it.
What this means is that companies need to build social engagement into their business model – product development, positioning, market entry, etc. – and it has to be a constant force underlying everything you do. It has to be an expected element of your business, not a reactionary tactic.