How to Start a Social Business


Social media isn’t something that you do, instead you have to be social. ~ Peter Thomson, Tickle: Digital marketing for tech companies

While there is a lot of discussion on what exactly constitutes a social business, I think Vala Afshar sums it up best when he says:

“We use Twitter, we’re a social business,” is like “I have an MBA, I’m ready to be CEO.”

— Vala Afshar (@ValaAfshar) September 22, 2013

The crux of the social way of conducting business is not just presence on social media but more importantly cultivating a value co-creation mindset. There are plenty of advantages to this approach and we also have our own perspective which we have discussed before.

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Parts of a synergy

OK. So far so good. Now the question is, if I am a business looking to benefit from social media, what is the bare minimum I need to start off?

Well, if you peel back the layers on any social customer engagement system worth its salt, I think there are three fundamental things that it is capable of doing or helping you do. In no order of importance, these are:

  • Integrate social (communication) media
  • Identify business facets
  • Maintain a customer database

You can add several layers of intelligence and analysis on top to get different flavors. Let’s discuss each one in turn, in the context of a customer engagement product.

Integrate social media:
A good product, at the very least, should help me keep my brand accounts in sync and maintain a complete searchable history of all communication. With a good social media dashboard, not only can I integrate multiple accounts from different channels (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube even Email) into a single console but I can also post a single update across all of them at the same time, schedule your updates and even mark and flag certain issues which need my attention.

Identify business facets:
To best understand the constant social media chatter, I need to be able to analyse it along different known dimensions of my business. This might sound complex so let’s break it down with an example. For a brand that sells sports shoes (say a Nike or Adidas) some of the dimensions could be: shoes, size, sport, run, comfort, price, men, women. Moreover each of these dimensions when mentioned relate to a very specific aspect of the brand and its business.

A social media system has to be able to auto-identify these labels along with providing me the option of adding qualified business dimensions i.e. ones that I know make a definite difference to my business.

Customer database:
One of the goodies that come with the transparency of social media is I now have access to information about a person that was otherwise hidden or accessible with great difficulty. Not only this but with some investment I can find socially available information someone with whom I have had an interaction before and then use this information to enrich further conversation. How? For e.g. by offering a customer a discount on her birthday. Social information can also be used to spice up promotions and campaigns.

A product that can amass a customer profile for me automatically becomes indispensable for me when I later want to know who, among the hundreds and thousands of people that I have interacted with, are my customers and prospects, friends and influential members, critics and more. Remember, people LOVE to be acknowledged on social media so it is important to know who to acknowledge and for what!

So there! With these three in place I believe you are ready and set to start your social business. Start small, scale fast and most importantly, make your customers happy!

Have fun 🙂

Photo Credit: smartenupinstitute via Compfight cc

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