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2012: The Rise of Social Business in Asia?

  |  March 26, 2012   |  Comments   |  

How marketers can help play a lead role in preparing an organization for social business.

Social business has become a buzz phrase in the United States, and marketers in Asia working for a U.S.-headquartered corporation can expect to hear more about it in the Year of the Dragon. Marketers need to have a viewpoint on social business because many customers will gravitate toward companies that take a whole-of-business approach to better communication and collaboration.

Some marketers will be justifiably skeptical to hear yet another buzz phrase, and it's fair to ask the question, "Hasn't business always been social?" The answer is yes, but there are significant changes driving business in a new and more social direction:

  • Growing demand from both consumers and employees for a level of communication and interaction that matches their favorite online and mobile experiences.
  • The availability and affordability of social tools and platforms that enable a whole business to better communication - both internally and with customers.
  • The rise of a new mindset and approach: planning for social media and collaborative tools from a whole-of-business perspective across multiple touch points (and not just from a marketing perspective).

You're probably already familiar with social media marketing, so the examples provided below go beyond the areas traditionally the responsibility of marketing.

Every aspect of social business (a.k.a. whole-of-business planning around social media and collaborative tools) can greatly benefit marketing. But to realize those benefits, marketing needs to play a lead role in preparing the organization to communicate better, both externally, and across internal silos.

Employee Branding and Customer Experience

The best campaigns can still fall down when customer-facing employees aren't empowered with the tools and authority to do the job they need to do. Enabling employees to play a more effective role as key touch points is an essential part of social business.

Internal Communication and Collaboration

There's an old corporate communications adage: "Say something 10 times and half the company will say they heard it once." Companies need to do a lot better than this in today's world (and the solution doesn't involve sending more all-company emails).

For both operational tasks and campaigns, people need to know what they are required to do. More broadly, social business platforms can enable increased efficiency via improved internal collaboration and knowledge sharing. This can improve everything from customer experience to product development.

Employee Recruitment, Engagement, and Retention

Recruiting and retaining the right people, and engaging them better will be essential if we want to serve customers better and earn their loyalty. While not everyone in an organization is customer facing, everyone has at least an internal customer to serve, and if your company is making the move to social business, this internal marketing mindset is important to promote.

Planning a Social Business Roadmap for Your Company

At many companies, planning a social business roadmap has involved setting up several sub-teams across the functional areas of the business to identify both "early wins" and "game changer" opportunities. To build a business case for funding, these need to be tied to specific business objectives.

Some companies have a cross-functional team evaluate proposals from the various business units, rating them on two main sets of criteria: business impact and early win potential. As "game changer" opportunities come with a larger price tag and a greater perceived risk/reward, prioritizing "early win" opportunities is often preferred. Although social business is a whole-of-business approach, in practical terms, it often starts with small teams running time-limited pilots.

Creating a social business roadmap for your company requires a broader view than just marketing can provide, however, it needs a strong unifier, a first among equals, and in many companies, marketing is well placed to play this role. When a company initiates planning for a social business roadmap, marketing can help lead change that benefits the whole company. Involving an external facilitator is also often useful.

While the reality is that silos aren't going away any time soon, social business approaches can help bridge the silos. By being involved every step of the way, marketers have a chance to make social business a game changer for making marketing more effective across the enterprise.

Three Things Marketers in Asia Can Do to Prepare:

  • Secure cross-functional buy-in.
  • Identify your company's social business objectives.
  • Identify both long-term game changers and early win opportunities.


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Jon  Hoel

Jon leads planning and strategy for TheFARM Singapore, one of the fastest-growing digital agencies in the region.

Current clients include SPRING Singapore, the National Climate Change Secretariat, Marks & Spencer , Costa Coffee, Clarke Quay, and Mount Novena Hospital.

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