Further Than Social
I know, I know ... I am getting dark and mysterious with my social writing lately.
First, talking about the world past social business and into the collaborative enterprise, then the post about the revolutionary wars of social, now talking about moving beyond social. What is this all about? What's going on?
Well, I want you to start thinking about the Social (r)evolution the proper way: it is done.
Marcia Conner talks about the same idea in her recent Fast Company article, but she is missing the mark. To say that Social is becoming “cliché” but still refer to Social Business, Social Learning, and Social Commerce as trends is not to focus on the problems that Social brings to the organization, rather continue the hype around Social X.
What was supposed to happen has mostly happened. The customer has changed their ways already, over thirty percent of internet users globally are in Facebook and twenty percent of them are also on Twitter. Vendors have hyped and created products that do virtually anything you can imagine with the word Social in it. We have written, explored, analyzed, and virtually done and said it all with and for Social. We have reached the era of Social critical mass, it has become mainstream.
We have witnessed the changes in the marketplace, workplace, society, and economy for the past 3-4 years -- now it's time to start working on a solution. No, I don't mean select a technology and implement it and call it done -- I mean, really create a solution that both addresses the needs of the business and the customers in the long run.
In other words, do something of value with the "stuff" (was going to use the more technical term "things", but I don't want to seem too cerebral) you gathered.
Look, Social is cute, hip, awesome, and lets you slice, dice, grate, and puree -- but it is done. There is no need to say Social anything anymore. There is no Social Business; there is the next evolution of Business that addresses the changes brought about by the Social (r)evolution. There is no Social Marketing, Service, and Sales - there are sales, marketing, and customer service functions that address the demands and issues brought out by Social. Same for Social Learning, Social Commerce, Social Knowledge and Social X.
Social is done, move on.
But, but, but -- what about the kumbayah? What about the customer's needs? What about... just being social?
Yeah, that remains - but you had that before we overhyped a new communication model between people. And that will continue, but it is now time to take note of what the Social (r)evolution brought, what we need to understand, and how it can be embedded within existing business models for maximum gain.
There are two items left behind by the Social (r)evolution for your business to deal with: data and channels. Let's explore them in a little bit more detail.
First, data. Social brought with it unstructured feedback (or information, or data, or whatever you want to call it -- but is unstructured). It is estimated that unstructured data is 95%+ of the available data, which means that Social brought with it a nice gift of a 20x increase in the amount of data we need to process.
You want to get the Social Data Tsunami under control? You will need to invest in filters (to separate noise from valuable data), processing (analytics engines that can process in memory or in stream to manage the volume in near-real-time), and storage (you cannot store all the data you collect for a long time, the volume become prohibitive - not on cost, on space to store it and tools to manage it).
Second, channels. Once it is all said and done Twitter, Facebook, Orkut, and all the other social networks just become new channels in your infrastructure. A new way for information to come in, and for information to go out. A new place where to interact with customers, partners, suppliers, and employees.
As with any other channel, the key to success is not to build another silo. Putting the processes and data related to Social activities in a separate place brings zero value to both the organization and the clients. You must ensure that the channels are properly supported and integrated. You must ensure that the data they need, wherever it may reside, and the process they are going to tap into, where they may be, are available.
You have to make these new channels part of your infrastructure, same as you did with the phone, email, and the web in the past.
Once you look at it away from the hype, focused on the growth it brings to business you will notice that any Social X project boils down to knowing more about your customers, their needs, and their opinions and your job is to simply being able to analyze that and use to further and evolve the business.
There is nothing more than that if you want to go Further Than Social.