Next week I am joining thousands of innovators, digital pioneers and social strategists for the interactive portion of SXSW. A highlight of the trip will be joining my former colleagues from social business consultancy Dachis Group who are organizing their third installment of the Social Business Summit—a global series of events which kicks off in Austin. I'll be speaking along side folks like Clarah Shih author of the Facebook Era and who now serves on *Starbuck's board dedicating to navigating social. Other notable speakers include Sandy Carter who has taken the lead on IBM's push for social business integration, Bonin Bough who recently departed *PepsiCo to lead social efforts at Kraft and of course Jeremiah Owyang who has helped define this space.
We Are Here: The Novelty Is Over
I'm starting my premise with the fact that many organizations (especially those who have led in social initiatives) are now past the "experimentation" phase of social disruption. Some are even beginning to take a step back to evaluate what they've done in the past—what worked and didn't and how things need to more forward at scale. For many organizations who have gotten past the unrealistic expectations first experienced when social got traction in their organization, they now understand that the changes needed to take place will be long term, gradual and not exactly glamorous. That said, we have a long way to go, and my take is that social business is really only getting started.
From Silos To Layer: Weaving Social Into Your Organization's DNA
Despite the progress that many organizations, businesses and brands have made over the past few years—the reality is that for many, social integration isn't integrated. It's happening, but typically within silos and some are moving faster than others. Take for example the most recent changes announced by Facebook last week which affect business pages. Some companies responded to the changes immediately while others are still grappling with what they need to do and how they need to do it. Even in the cases where an organization has high proficiency using social in one silo (like marketing and communications) they are grappling with how to apply it to others. There are few examples emerging however which illustrate some convergence—Dominos Pizza for example has recently integrated product development with social marketing in their "Think Oven" initiative which invites customers to submit ideas or predefined participate in projects all via a Facebook app which is built into their business page. What Dominos is doing may be the tip of the iceberg, but getting your customers to work with you for mutual gain is a core value of what social business is supposed to be about.
Still, the Dominos example isn't a success story as much as it is a mere signpost on the very long and winding road that is social business. Even with the ability to mine ideas from enthusiastic customers via social networks which are part of their lives, there are still operational challenges which include coordinating activities between the marketing department, agency partners, product development, and even legal. Right now, most organizations are making progress in pockets vs. the whole and it's going to take significant time for social to be woven into the fabric, culture and operations of any company. And, it's likely to not happen to all, but will definitely happen to some. The next ten years will be critical for a business in how it handles these disruptions and opportunities. We've now entered the threshold where the "weaving" of social into the fabric of an organization will take vision, time, resource, money, dedication and most importantly—patience.
*Starbucks and PepsiCo are Edelman clients