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Six things every business must include in their strategy if they want to be a social business

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People are at the centre of almost every business.

Customers, shareholders, staff and other stakeholders are increasingly talking to one another. Lately, their conversations increasingly are taking place online and even more so on social media platforms.

So, whether you like it or not, you are in a social media business. Consequently, do yourself a favour by taking time out to understand the relatively new medium.

Also, it is vital to develop a “social business” strategy in order to avoid the risk of not knowing what is being said about your brand. Let’s explore some of the elements of what social businesses are doing.

#1. Focus on the customer. What separates a good company from a great company is their focus on the customer. Great companies are relentless in their quest to give the customer what they want. If “the customer is always right” then the fact that 65% of the Australian population is on Facebook might tell you something about what the customer wants. Innovative brands know this and are rethinking how they communicate with their customers.

#2. Share and care. Today, it’s not only about doing media differently. It’s about being social and open. Businesses are carefully considering ways to build “sharing” into all their communication. This is because they see their role differently — as part of a conversation, enabling an eco-system of communication around their brand. So, they are building “social design” into their digital assets to ensure these conversations have the best chance for viral spread.

#3. Collaborate. Social media is not just for external stakeholders. It is also about what happens inside the company. It is about embedding social media tools inside the business to enable teams and individuals business-wide to communicate and collaborate. Communication platforms like Yammer are already doing that. This is driving innovation by breaking down the traditional approach to internal communications. It allows innovative businesses to develop new KPIs and rewards for highly active and engaged staff members. Having an internal social strategy is not so much about changing the way your staff work, but using technology to increase productivity.

#4. Talking to shareholders. The next frontier in businesses going social is how they communicate with shareholders. This is more relevant for listed companies, but private companies would also do well to think about the possibilities. Shareholders are increasingly airing their views online about the companies they have invested in. Social businesses not only encourage this but also enable it. The logic then is: If you can’t stop the conversations, join in. Participate in these dialogues and you would be able to reduce any risk. Or even better, create a platform for the conversations and extract true intelligence that can help your company.

#5. Go social to get ahead. “Going social” is all about developing a competitive advantage. We have seen what happens when industries are slow to respond to the developing digital market. Make sure your business is not struggling to catch up by starting your social business plan now.  Be assured that going social is less about risk or experimentation. Social business is mature enough. Its tools and techniques are tried and tested, and you can create a measurable return on investment.

And lastly, feel free to draw from the successes and failures of other businesses when developing your own strategy. Few ideas are original, but how you implement your strategy can be remarkable.

Mark Cameron is CEO of Working Three, a digital strategy and implementation agency. He speaks regularly around Australia, and the world, on the future social media and digital strategy.

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