There was an elephant in the Great Room at The Social Shake-Up 2014: Is social really over as a business?
Moderator, and CEO of Social Media Today, Robin Fray Carey, asked this of the star-studded panel of three at this keynote ending the first day of the #SocialShakeUp. Sitting on stage with Carey to answer this and discuss more were Renee Ducre, Global Director Marketing, Social Business, IBM; Jeffrey Dachis, Former Founder, CEO, and Chairman, Dachis Group; and Vanessa DiMauro, Founder and CEO, Leader Networks.
The panel discusses where social has been and where it's headed. Today we find social expertise in many enterprise endeavors: from the expected, like customer service and marketing, to the unexpected, like product development-and yes, even legal. If the ability to use networks and social tools is everywhere, what is the future of social? What are the current strategic concerns, and what can we anticipate next year and in the years to come? Here's what the panel had to say:
IS IT THE END OF THE SOCIAL BUSINESS ERA?
The panelists each had a unique answer along the "social is not over spectrum"-from maybe to definitely not.
Dachis: It's Just the Beginning
"Far from it. We're really at the beginning. But I hope social as a cliché is over starting today."
DiMauro: We Have Graduated
"Now that the struggle of learning the tools and technology is over, it's time to apply our imaginations and connect. ROI should keep coming up."
Ducre: It's Here to Stay
"It's here to stay, although it will always be evolving. Whether we like it or not, we're all a social business. The conversation will go on with or without you, so get on board. If social is here to stay, ROI is a key piece as well as being able to talk to a CEO about it. We have to continue to evangelize results."
SHOULD COMPANIES OWN OR RENT THE SOCIAL CONVERSATION?
"Is social business threatened by using social media," Carey asked, "such as the decisions being made by LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter? Should companies think about owning the social conversation inside their walls?"
Ducre: Don't Lease Your Brand's Legacy
"IBM votes to own their social conversation, but it varies based on the brand and its goals. IBM, for instance, has a strong history that it has built over time. But it only takes a second to drop the value of stock by doing something crazy. Do we really want to rent our legacy out?"
DiMauro: Decide Depending on Your Business
"Do you want to go to a rock concert or play golf with some of your clients? It depends on your business whether you rent versus own. A lot of causes and non-profits, for example, push to own because they don't have the resources to rent."
Jeffrey Dachis: Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too
"Can I play golf with clients and go to the concert? Use a mix of paid, earned, and owned. Tap into owned and earned where people are, and use paid to amplify earned conversations or attract new earned."
THE ROLE OF SOCIAL AND THE SOCIAL PERSONA
For years, smart people have been saying that eventually we would no longer distinguish "social" business from ordinary business. So where does social come into play in our offline and online lives?
DiMauro: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
"Connect online and offline experiences. Who I am at the counter is different than who I am on social."
DiMaur point to Leader Networks' social business research studies to find out how to leverage insights gained both online and offline to be more responsive to stakeholders, such as prospective customers, clients, partners, and suppliers. Visit the website for the new Social Consumer Study, which should be coming out in the next week.
"They are one and the same: people connecting with each other in the collaborative economy. Social becomes an economic driver-that's the future of social business."
"I echo Jeff's comments about the Internet of Things. Delight the customer to buy and drive revenue. The collaborative economy is community-based. The power structure is changing, and community is the root of people-powered ideas. People have the influence."
She suggested checking out John Deere's, The Furrow Magazine, online, for example, to see the unsurpassed treatment the company gives to customers, investors, and employees.
TO BLOG OR NOT TO BLOG
"Should executives blog?" Carey asked the panel to weigh in on. "Is a blog the best use of time, energy, and expertise."
Dachis: Play to Your Strengths
"I don't blog, but I do tweet, and I will begin blogging soon. Social business means understanding the business processes and cultural impact. You can understand these things without blogging, but you have to understand social technologies to blog. I have seen the most prolific social person fail at social strategies and vice versa. I wouldn't equate the two."
Ducre: Blog About Your Passions
"IBM's 400,000 employees are on social, being led by its Social Computing Guidelines. It's accessible for anyone to be social, so if you're not on social get social now. Whether it's on Twitter, LinkedIn, or a blog, share your point of view on a topic you're passionate about. Your passion will come through and people will follow because of it. Love finance? Blog about it. Is HR is your thing? Blog about it. Whatever your career path, you're more marketable and you're more competitive if you're more social."
DiMauro: Blog, but Don't Burn Out
"Community managers are my heroes. Keep doing what you're doing, but don't burn out. At the end of the day, apply the collaborative economy. This helps solve business puzzles. As moderators, they represent the voice of the customer and the voice of the organization. They need social skills, to know how to facilitate, and an understanding of business drivers. When the business stool has these three legs, magic happens."
Either social is a powerful trend, or it's meaningful, truth, you're participating in it, and you see value in it. Years ago social was tools. For the last year or two, it has been social media marketing. Now it's insights, listening, and responding. What will it be next? We'd love to know your past and present experiences with social, and your thoughts on where you think it's headed in the comments below.
"As social networks increasingly monetize, I suggest we keep creating new friction points to keep the predominance of major networks, like ABC and NBC, from happening all over again."
Ducre: "I'll say social isn't over to be provocative."
Dachis: Social is not over, but saying it is over is link bait."
DiMauro: Social is here because we're still learning. In five years from now-it may not be here.