As we finish our investigation of social media I felt that for my final post it would be best to look across the last 4 months and pull together a set of personal thoughts and reflections on both the concepts we covered and what happened in our world that relates to social media. Here are my four (and a half) biggest take-aways for IS6621.
Social Media Can Move Markets and Impact Your Business: Be Ready
Going into this post I was planning to avoid the topic of the presidential election entirely. My thinking was that this topic would most likely be covered by many others and at the same time we had covered it to a fair degree in class. That was my plan. But then, Donald Trump did this:
and the result was…
Retaliation for a CEO’s comments? Worried about a down grade from his personal plane? Who knows. But, regardless of your political leanings or how tax payer money should be spent, I think that we can all agree that a single tweet causing a blue chip stock to freefall means that social media does have the power to influence markets. The buzz around a company will make or break that company and more and more social media is going to shape what we know about any organization. Managers need to consider the impact of social media on their business and put together appropriate strategies and plans to manage social media as they would any other aspect of the business. You are not going to be able to plan for everything (like the tweets of president-elect’s), but you can have an approach in place to deal with the unexpected that is going allow the company to recover quickly.
Become a Platform or Fail Like Friendster
The companies that are succeeding in the social media space have more than one trick up their sleeves. The winners are embracing a platform approach within their business model, offering multiple products and services to their customers. Don’t believe me? Look at the likes of Facebook and Amazon. Both of these companies are still here because they took their existing concept and successfully pivoted to offer additional products and services to their consumers. In 2004 no one could have predicted that Amazon would be producing television or that Facebook would be processing monetary transactions. But, then again we are not taking the time to discuss the merits of mySpace or Friendster now are we :o)
As they mature and their service is either copied or valued less by customers, social media companies will be unable to keep the traffic and revenue necessary to sustain their business from a single offering. Continuous product development and differentiation in support of a single platform strategy cued towards customer needs is going to be the ideal path for most social and web companies. Amazon is a master of this approach and has strategically entered markets where the see opportunities to improve the customer experience or synergies with existing products and services. Now one company offers everything from cloud computing, to streaming services, and devices all working together or separately as a customer requires.
Even traditional companies are getting into the platform game. Check out this article on platforms and how even Nike is making the leap: http://fortune.com/2016/04/10/nike-platform-business-book-excerpt/
Related, but not the Same: Social is NOT Digital
Digital business or Digital is perhaps one of the most challenging and overused terms that exist today (this is what happens when we try to use an adjective as a noun) and far too many organizations seem to believe that social media is going to be what turns them into a digital business. I’d like to dispel this rumor right now. Social media is not digital business. Sure, social media can be part of a larger digital strategy, but for that to be occur, just having a social media team doesn’t cut it. Think you are digital? Ask yourself and your company these questions:
- Do you know why you are engaging with your customers on social media?
- Are you analyzing customer data from social media to get a better picture of who your customer is and their goals?
- Can you tailor or personalize products or services based on what you learn about your customers from social media?
- Are you improving business processes based on recurrent feedback from social media?
Digital business is all about creating new business models and improving existing models through the application of customer-centric technology and customer information. Looking for a good definition of digital? I like Gartner’s:
“Digital business is the creation of new business designs by blurring the digital and physical worlds. CIOs and IT leaders can use this framework to identify the current state of the business, determine the future state and gauge the change required to become a digital business.”
Yes. Social media has a place to play in digital business. It is a great way to gain insight into the people, but do not think that a social first or social only strategy is going to make your company a digital organization.
Digital is not about technology enabling business, or even about technology, for that matter. Digital business is about the customer and putting faster, smarter, better connected solutions in place that allow the customer to achieve their goals. Ideally, in a better fashion than they were before.
And Don’t ever Forget that it is all about the Customer
I said it at the start of the class and I still believe it is true. The customer is at the core of digital business. The good news for all of us is that a strong social media strategy can help us get a better understanding of our customers.
Customer expectations are ever evolving and customer’s simply expect more today than ever before. Whether it is one-click shopping, instant access to transportation, or the ability to google anything, anywhere, ease of use and access to information is the new normal. The unfortunate part of this new world is that very few companies ground their strategy in an understanding of the customer.. In the new digital economy customer is king and the company with the better understanding of their customers is going to succeed.
Social media can help us understand our customers, their needs, preferences, and even how they react to the products our services that they consume. More companies need to get smart about understanding their customer. Take a look at my blog post on Social Listening to learn how big data and social media can come together to help solve this problem.
Cognitive surplus is real and I believe most of us starting to experience the benefits of automation and digitally focused improvements in our daily lives if we have not already. At the end of the day, it’s all about what we do with our newly freed time/brain capacity that is going to determine whether we fully achieve the promises of the new economy.
Just do us all a favor and try to leave the lol cats out of it.