Social Business, Social Brand
Written by Michael Brito
There seems to be some confusion in the market place about the difference between a social brand and a social business. First, let’s explore the definitions.
A social brand is any company, product, individual, politician that uses social technologies in order to communicate with the social customer, their partners and constituencies or the general public.
A social business is any company that has integrated social media within every job function internally. A social business is built upon three pillars – people, process and technology. All three need to work independent of each other, yet need to be completely integrated into the DNA of the organizational culture. It requires employees to actually communicate — processes and governance models that help shape employee behavior online — and technology to facilitate collaboration across the organization.
Here is an infographic created by my colleague David Armano that illustrates the differences visually:
The graphic illustrates some really significant points. First, it’s clear that social business planning is internal and a social brand is external. But more importantly, there needs to be consistent alignment between both internal and external programs/initiatives in order to see true business results for the organization. Now, I have always been a firm believer that an organization cannot and will not have meaningful conversations with the social customer unless they can have meaningful conversations internally first.
Here is my logic and one example that illustrate my point.
Chris is irritated because he dialed in to a customer support department and was on hold for 30 minutes. No one ever answered his call. He goes to the brand’s Facebook page and leaves a comment expressing his anger. No response. He then tweets at the brand’s Twitter profile. No response. So he writes a blog post criticizing the heck out of the brand and shares it all over the social web. Still no response.
In most organizations, a corporate Twitter handle is owned and managed by someone in PR; and due to organizational silos that still plague business today; most likely they aren’t talking with their colleagues in customer support.
Assume the PR person did send an email to customer support and let’s say that they took care of Chris’ issue and he is happy now. And then the same thing happens with Mary, John, Steve and several other customers; and the support team realizes that they need to shift internally in order to address all these online inquiries. Good progress for sure. After all, happy customers are a good thing.
But a true social business will go above and beyond addressing isolated customer support issues. They will take that feedback (because they are communicating and working together internally) and fix the root cause of the problem. One example is Comcast. They have excellent customer support on Twitter and are solving customer issues day in and day out. But a quick search of Comcast in Twitter still surfaces the same issues – technicians not making it to their appointments within the guaranteed window. In this case, it’s not a support problem; rather a process problem that needs to be fixed.
Of course, I am over-simplifying the issue because situations like these take time, a commitment to change, process creation and the establishment of governance models.
Here is why a social brand and a social business are completely different:
- A social brand is focused on external communications. A social business focuses on internal communications.
- A social brand is all about engagement with the social customer. A social business is all about engagement with employees.
- A social brand is owned by marketing. A social business should be owned by the entire organization.
- A social brand is measured by clicks, impressions, reach, likes, comments, RTs, etc. A social business is measured by organizational change.
- With a social brand, budgets are usually allocated towards agencies, community management, Facebook applications, blog development, etc. Most investments into social business initiatives revolve around internal communities, social technologies, and training.
And here is the one reason why they are exactly the same:
- They serve the same purpose and underlying goal – value creation for the social customer.
The social brand provides value to the social customer simply through two way conversations. Many customers don’t need incentives; they just want to know that the brand is listening. Also, marketing programs like contests, give-aways and product discounts are a huge driver in value creation. Lastly, providing relevant content to customers delivers long term business value.
The social business creates value to the social customer and also to its external counterpart, the social brand. A fully collaborative social business will enable a brand to scale through governance, process creation and technology enablement. In other words, a social brand and a social business need to be in complete alignment to see true business results and also to close the loop of the value creation model as illustrated in the above graphic by Armano.
If the processes and relationships are working effectively internally, the social business will undoubtedly provide value in the form of customer satisfaction to the social customer through product (or process) innovation that happens as a direct result of the social brand listening and engaging directly with the social customer.
A tech veteran, Michael Brito is Senior Vice President of Social Business Planning at Edelman Digital, the interactive arm of the world's largest independently owned public relations firm. He is a much sought after speaker, advisor and community activist on issues ranging from social business, fund raising, digital marketing, community engagement, customer advocacy and integrated brand marketing communications. Brito received a Bachelor of Arts in Business from Saint Mary’s College and a Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications from Golden Gate University. He proudly served eight years in the United States Marine Corps.
Brito’s new book, Smart Business, Social Business, is available for purchase at most fine book stores as well as http://thesocialbusinessbook.com and Amazon.com. You can also contact Brito through http://thesocialbusinessbook.com.
Microsoft: Building a secure foundation to drive NASCAR
Microsoft is a key partner of The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and together they are driving ahead to create an inclusive and immersive new fan experience (FX).
These long-term partners have not only navigated the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic with the use of Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365, but are now looking to a future packed with virtual events to enhance the FX, well beyond NASCAR’S famous Daytona racetrack.
“Together, we've created a secure environment that's allowed for collaboration, but the future is all about the fans”, said Melinda Cook, General Manager for Microsoft South USA Commercial Business, who cited a culture of transparency, passion, adaptiveness, and a growth mindset as to why this alignment is so successful.”
“We've partnered to create a fluid, immersive experience for the users that is supported by a secure foundation with Microsoft in the background. We are focused on empowering and enabling customers and businesses, like NASCAR, to reach their full potential. We do this with our cloud platform which provides data insights and security.”
“Our cloud environment allows NASCAR to move forward with their digital transformation journey while we are in the background,” said Cook who highlights that Microsoft is helping NASCAR
- Empower employees productivity and collaboration
- Improve fan engagement and experience
- Improve environment security and IT productivity
- Improve racing operations
Microsoft Teams, which is part of the Microsoft 365 suite, enabled employees to work remotely, while staying productive, during the pandemic. “This allowed people to provide the same level of productivity with the use of video conference and instant messaging to collaborate on documents. Increased automation also allows the pit crews, IT, and the business to focus on safety, racing operations, and on the fan experience,” said Cook.
“We have started to innovate to create a more inclusive fanbase, this includes using Xbox to give people the experience of being a virtual racer or even leveraging some of the tools in Microsoft Teams to have a virtual ride along experience.”
“These environments are how we create a more inclusive and immersive experience for the fans. We're working on a virtual fan wall which allows people from new locations to participate in these events,” said Cook, who pointed out Microsoft was also helping bring legacy experiences alive from NASCAR’s archives.
“At Microsoft we can take it one level further by letting fans know what it's like to see the pit crew experience, the data and all the behind-the-scenes action. We will continue to improve automation with machine learning and artificial intelligence, from marketing to IT operations to finance to racing operations,” said Cook.
Christine Stoffel-Moffett, Vice President of Enterprise Technology at NASCAR, said: “Microsoft is one of our key partners. They have been instrumental in helping the NASCAR enterprise technology team re-architect our Microsoft systems to ensure an advanced level of security across our environment, contribute to our business outcomes, and focus on fan experience.”