REDMOND, WASHINGTON, USA – April 15, 2010 – I was pleased to present the morning keynote at the recent Microsoft Social Media 201 Conference held at the Microsoft Executive Briefing Center. The event, put on by buddy Joe Kennedy (@KennedyIAm) and the guys at @FreshConsulting, was aimed at helping elaborate the “next steps” for companies who have already established initial social media efforts.

Monolithic messaging no longer works. (Photo: Kris Ruby)

The event was well attended, with approximately 150 people in Redmond plus many more online via Entitled The Socially Powered Enterprise, the premise behind my presentation was that social media tools, channels and venues can allow the voice, whims, feedback and input of the customer to be injected directly into various points in the enterprise value chain—rather than just Marketing.

More and more consultants and thought leaders have made that connection and are discussing what this looks like. The folks at Altimeter Group have been talking about Social CRM and @StoweBoyd has written a number of articles on “social business” and “enterprise 2.0.” Jeremiah Owyang (@JOwyang) documents a number of great applications for social media within the value chain, but to my thinking, an additional set of steps—a social business ladder—needed to be detailed to assist 101-level businesses in understanding the Whys of socialized enterprise as much as the Hows.

Six Steps to Socialized Business

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and writing lately around the steps required to move companies out of experimentation and into implementation. They consist of:


Before companies get started, they should study not only what the most progressive social media leaders are doing, but also their target markets, their competitors, and their internal governance strengths and weaknesses.


According to a recent study, 54% of companies are using some type of listening platform to understand mentions, sentiment, topics of interest, share of voice, etc., in the social sphere. I suspect a lot of those respondents are merely doing Google searches or using other free tools. Once a company has studied the space, the competition and themselves, they’ll know what to listen for, and what kind of platform to acquire.


Now that we know more about social business and can hear our markets, we can determine what to publish. Typically, this is the first place companies dive in: publishing to Twitter or YouTube without truly understanding the social opportunity, inbound marketing ramifications or having any intelligence obtained from listening. Rather than publishing haphazardly, my premise is to lead with steps 1 and 2 before spending time, effort and budget on publishing.


Once publishing starts happening, we can engage with our markets. By making the content sharable, by enabling comments, by making tools interactive, we can inspire engagement and increase our share of time with the customer.


When engagement is occurring, we can begin to influence behavior and reputation. Our market can be moved to spread our value along existing lines of trust and “virality” can occur.


Finally, after we are creating influence, we can motivate our markets to action. Interested consumers can become brand advocates. Campaigns can create activation around causes. Our markets are not just reading or forwarding, they are taking steps to do brand-related or product-related activities.

Marketing in its current form will continue to wither and recede

Marketers face more significant challenges than at any time in the past. Time-starvation, attention deficit, overwhelming noise, overwhelming product choice, growing distrust and ever-increasing ability for the customer to self-publish all work together to make our jobs incredibly difficult. Yet we often continue to cling to the traditional rules of engagement.

Businesses must consider that:

  • Asking for time or attention is an increasingly difficult task. Many businesses just don’t have the budget for it.
  • Advertising and marketing are massively distrusted activities.
  • We cannot stop the explosion of product choice, or the noise generated by consumers.
  • Societal issues increasingly outweigh interest in commercial issues.

IMPORTANT: Because of these realities, the best opportunity forward for marketers is to 1) leverage the market’s ability to publish, and 2) build trust, which will engender time and attention.

Check out my presentation, which rose to Top Presentation of the Day and Most Talked About Presentation on Facebook at SlideShare (!), and contact me with any questions or discussion. Thanks.

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