Enterprise C-Suites and Board Members Threatened by Social Business

The next business disruption for the enterprise is social business. It is already under way, and most large companies, especially if they're public, are resisting it mightily.

But every enterprise C-suite occupant and board member should read Jay Baer and Amber Naslund's The Now Revolution because you have a responsibility to help your organization survive. And it won't survive unless you embrace the changes you fear.

Every customer is a potential reporter, and every employee is a potential spokesperson. Business has changed more in the past three years than in the prior 30. But it's not a threat, it's an opportunity. The NOW Revolution shows you how. This book isn't about how to "do" social media. Instead, it outlines how you can retool your organization to capitalize on real-time business.

Egypt's Revolution and the presence of a Google employee on the ground thanking Facebook should have taught you the importance of real time streams to your brand. You might do well to think of your brand as Egypt. But the difference between your brand and Egypt is that Egypt will toss out Mubarek and go on. Your company may not.

I had an epiphany while listening to Amber and Jay present last week at SMAZ. The epiphany was that many companies are never going to be able to deal with the disruption caused by social business. They simply won't make it and will go out of business, replaced by companies that do. Or, in my best dreams, by nimble startups.

Here's a dirty little secret. I also do work for the enterprise. Not as a social media consultant, and not under the Stealthmode brand, which counsels and invests in the game-changing startups of the world.

I work for enterprise companies secretly under a different brand, in which I often ghost write or author white papers, marketing materials, and speeches for those CXOs.

That's where I get my enterprise knowledge, which tells me I can't yet consult to those companies about social media, because they are terrified about transparency. They are still on the old path. Not necessarily the rank and file employees, but the decision makers. Everything I write goes through legal. Most things go through the CMO or the CEO or even the CFO. It has to be blessed.

By the time that happens, we are no longer in real time. In fact, we are sometimes months out from the event that occasioned a response. Relatively few companies empower employees to respond to customer complaints without a script.

Amber and Jay are braver than I am. They go right into companies and try to bring them into real time, Amber with Radian6, a leading tool for brand monitoring, and Jay with the combined experience of 20 years as an entrepreneur and digital pioneer ( when I met him he owned the first interactive marketing agency in Arizona).

If you work in a high position for a public company, or are on a board, get this book. But when you read it, don't forget that you will have to change your entire corporate culture to put the authors' "seven shifts" into effect. Tranforming an enterprise into a social business involves a philosophical change (decentralization of the marketing/customer support function), a hiring change (finding talent you can trust) , ownership changes (decentralization of response-ability) and new metrics against which to measure success.

So it won't be easy. But if you don't do it, you won't make it for long.

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1 Comments

  • christian briggs

    This is a great post, Francine. I have been working with C-Level folks for a few years now, helping them to think about the leadership implications of digital media. One of the things that has struck me in the last year or so is the irrational vigor with which these folks initially attack or dismiss tools like Twitter, and the fear that i think is behind it. It got me thinking about the potential sociology behind it. Here is a blog post on the topic if you are interested:
    Cheers,
    Christian Briggs