Becoming a Social Business: How Mature Is Your Company in Social Media?

social biz atlanta3The following examines what it takes to be a social business.  As you go through, think about how mature your business is (or is not) when it comes social media.

We bring you one of the most discussed sessions during this year’s Social Biz Atlanta Conference. Below is a text transcript, along with the full video of the session at the end.  The session featured:

  • Teresa Caro, SVP of Social and Content Marketing, Engauge (pictured, lower right)
  • Bert Dumars, Vice President, Principal Analyst Serving CMOs at Forrester Research (pictured, lower left)
  • Adam Naide, Social Media Leader & Digital Marketing at Cox Communications (pictured, upper left)
  • Art Hall, Director at Alvarez & Marsal (Moderator) (pictured, upper right)

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Art Hall: [Introductions]  Burt was with Newell Rubbermaid and functioned in a marketing and in a eCommerce role as he oversaw all of the Newell’s branding and now has taken a job at Forrester Research. Burt is going to talk on corporate social media maturity.

Teresa will talk about how Enguage adopted Forrester’s model into some further categorizations to help us to understand how companies can evolve to becoming a social business. And last but not least, we will turn it over to Adam Naide [of Cox Communications].

Bert DuMars:  We have been calling this an age of post-digital. Digital is not a silo anymore, nor is social, nor is eCommerce – it is all part of marketing.

CMOs who are ahead of the game are senior marketing executives who … are bringing in digital experts, analytics scientists. They are bringing in email marketing specialists; they are bringing in all of these different roles and and rolling that into the market organization.

There is also this other big trend going on and it is called digital disruption. … [is] a digital disrupter to Oracle and SAP. They came in from underneath and they built, and they built, and they built from the ground up and now they are a major competitor to these multi-billion dollar software companies coming from nowhere.

This is happening in all kinds of industries. Look at what Netflix is doing, look at [its] new series, House of Cards. House of Cards is doing amazing work that is digitally disrupting the whole world of media right now, even as we speak.

We have all of these different changes going on and what is going to happen with social is you are [either] going to be a part of the organizations that are disrupting through social, through digital, through ecommerce, through product development, through customer experience — or you are going to be … running as fast as you can to keep up with the disruptors.

With that I am going to hand it off to Teeresa so she can go into some depth about the maturity model, and what Enguage is doing.

Teresa Caro: One of the things that we do with our clients is look at their social maturity. We really enjoy how Forrester looks at it — we use their five stages that came out in 2011 and then we apply it to different aspects of their organization.

We look at their current state and we look at where they want to be from a desired state prospective, and we put together a road map. Now what’s interesting is if you look at different aspects of the organization, you look at how an organization defines their brand, or how they govern social, or how innovation comes along, or content. You look at all of those different facets, and there are about 7 or 8 different categories.  If we look at that across an organization, and their current state maybe, in some cases at really a testing stage; or maybe a collaboration stage; or maybe even further along — but it will be all over the board because social is just one of those things.

It was tried out in the PR Department, or their advertising department. We know we needed a Facebook page, ‘Oh hey, Twitter is really great at pushing out press releases.’ Then it evolves over time and terms of the organization and depending on the size, and how fragmented that organization is in the first place, that tells how social evolved.  And so we come and try to gain alignment and in all of those pieces.

Let’s take governance, for example. So if you look at your business and your organization and how you handle social, a lot of the times it starts off as a free for all. A land grab … of ‘social’s mine, no it’s mine, no it’s mine.’

That is really how a lot of organizations start.  PR think it’s theirs, advertising think it’s theirs, human resources thinks it’s a complete nightmare, because their employee are on there talking about things, customers service think it’s theirs.  Well, for all intents and purposes everybody is there.

Let’s use Dell as an example. Everybody likes to use Dell, but they have been the ones that have been promoting their six-year evolutions more than any other company. They went from “Dell Hell”, where they were like, ‘Oh my goodness, what is this social thing. Everybody is talking about their computers blowing up.’   To now, in the past couple of years they have been pushing it out to the rest of the organization and everybody owns it.  Everybody has been through their certification process, everybody is on the same page  — so governance is a really fascinating way of looking at your organization and social maturity.

Another fun one is content marketing. If you look at content in general from a maturity standpoint, it starts off as you are not doing anything in social and you are just doing push advertising, with no extension in to the social space. How many of you remember for several years back Ford had this really fantastic commercial with Kermit the Frog in it and forgot to buy they keywords for Kermit, or for “green,” or for any of those things? I think their competitors ended up buying them and it was a missed opportunity.

It is the same thing for social.  There are so many times that advertisers are creating these great campaigns and forgetting to do the social extensions, but for the ones who remember the social extensions it is huge.

Red Bull, another great example — they did such a great job with their content they now they sell it. The fantastic example not many of us will ever achieve … but it is certainly something fantastic to aspire to.

Adam Naide:  I have been at Cox for a year and half now, and previously I was leading social media at CNN … when social got off the ground.  I am actually really glad that I came from that content experience because when you think about what people engage most around in social, what are they talking about? They are talking about the news, they are sharing content, they are talking about what is the water cooler, right?

Starting with the news brand like CNN it really helped me to understand the way content is used. Now I am at Cox where we have access to all of the best content.  Just to give you an example on the consumer side, we did content social media partnerships in the past year with some of the best for content that you probably would find like, Walking Dead on AMC, True Brides, Game of Thrones, Dexter, Homeland the Olympics.

You think about where entertainment and where people’s passion is … and so much of it is about entertainment. It’s sexy, it is fun.  Let’s face it, most people hate their cable company, they just do. It is a fact of life. But the good news is that I’ve got all of the best toys to play with, so I can use these toys, and I can leverage these great partnerships that we have with our programmers and our content partners, to bring you closer to the content you love.

Social media starts with passion. If you are not passionate about your business and what you do, no one else is going to care. I can’t tell you how many times when I meet with people, and they might be in transition, or ‘hey look at my resume,’ and I say, ‘I don’t understand what it is that you do?’  You have to be passionate, you have to tell your story. I don’t care if you are a big company, small company, B2B or B2C – you have to have the passion.

Second of all, people really overthink this stuff. Your brands need to be human. We need to act like humans. As Teresa talked about, we really operate as a partnership between customer care, public affairs and marketing. My job every day is to keep us grounded.

No one wants to talk to a press release. We want to talk to people.  So to start with, ‘Hey I am sitting down, and Art and I are having a conversation and what it that I want to tell you?’ That is where I think social media really shows the power, it is about brands as humans, brands as story tellers.

Art Hall:  [Regarding B2B, you] need to find out where your audience is. Your audience may not be on Twitter, it probably most definitely will not be on Facebook. Your audience is probably sitting on LinkedIn. Your audience is probably sitting on forums and communities.  Your audience may be local, or hyper local, depending on the size of your business and who you are trying to reach.

You may have a physical aspect to your business — in other words, face to face meetings with people is critical to you conducting business. You need to figure out how to integrate that in. You need to figure out how to integrate what social fits and works well for you with a physical presence, and how they work together.

There are a lot of examples of big corporations that are really desperately trying to figure this out right now. Look at Audi. There was a whole article about Audi, because their physical presence does not equate to the brand experience expected. So they are redesigning all of their show rooms in the United States right now, because of their physical not matching up with the social, or the digital, or the brand. So you have to think about that as a B2B player or a B2C player as well.

Editor’s Note:  The above transcript has been edited for readability, and small parts have been left out. For the entire session, please see the video below.


This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.

Brent Leary Brent Leary is the host of the Small Business Trends One-on-One interview series and co-founder of CRM Essentials LLC, an Atlanta-based CRM advisory firm covering tools and strategies for improving business relationships. Brent is a CRM industry analyst, advisor, author, speaker and award-winning blogger.