In my research lately, I’ve observed that the confluence of two major trends in the digital world, social business and big data, has led to a host of significant new opportunities — and some inevitable challenges — for our organizations today. Essentially, the world is at last waking up to the fact that online conversations in the social world are public and so many of them concern our businesses. As a result, more and more every day, we see that organizations are tying the two together in actionable ways.
A few months back, I collected some of the more interesting and impactful examples of social media and big data. These stories indicated that the intertwining of the two ‘megatrends’ was real and meaningful to our organizations. Simply put, timely and and effective use of social data can produce tangible and significant business results, including higher revenue, improve margins, more efficient business processes, better customer retention, and so on.
However, even though this combined new discipline barely has a name, which I’ll call here data-driven social media operations, we do see that as all technology tends to do, it has only helped separate the leaders and the laggards. Organizations that are already capable with social media as well as with the trappings of big data, are at a significant advantage at the moment.
While the Big Five technology trends that are transforming our businesses are being dealt with piecemeal by most companies, the ones that can combine them effectively are already producing impressive results (see the T-Mobile customer retention story for a particularly compelling example.)
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Companies are often falling behind simply because they don’t know the way forward as quiet breakthroughs are made across the industry. To help address this, I recently explored what it takes to make data-driven social media operations a reality now at our yearly Social Business Summit in Austin last month. I’ve also summarized my latest view on this in the visual above as well. Please feel free to reuse it with attribution as you communicate and build up your efforts.
The Essentials of Data-Driven Social Media Operations
From my presentation last month, here’s what I believe are the key takeaways to be a data-driven social business:
- The digitally disruptive CXO will have data supremacy. Knowing, before anyone else, the critical conversations and sentiment changes taking place, right now, in social media that affect your business — and your competitors — has become essential. Equally important is knowing which ones aren’t relevant and getting them out of the way.
- Corollary: Investment in data-driven operations must be a first-class citizen. Experiments around the edges of business processes was fine one or two years ago, but today’s case studies show data-driven operations is producing competitively significant results today.
- Social media will look more and more like other business functions. Social is no longer out to the side, it’s now part of the flow of business (see visual above) to the extent it’s becoming the primary domain workstream in some cases.
- The brand experience is becoming centered around extended multi-channel conversations, instead of media buys. Brand marketing is being revolutionized by the engagement process, and specifically, the ability of an organization to engage at scale effectively (which requires the above-mentioned investment in operations.)
- Companies must be ready at each touchpoint to engage using advocates. The customer journey can only be guided in scale by advocacy, and companies require the ability to enlist them at each customer touchpoint. Companies that harness their advocates can’t will increasingly fail to maintain their customer relationships.
- Have advocate capital. Companies must cultivate and orchestrate advocates in far greater numbers and be able to influence them in participating in joint outcomes.
- Have #bigdata-powered operations. Don’t have today’s social data plugged into your business? Then you simply can’t engage in, influence, and amplify the conversations and outcomes that matter to you.
- Have performance managed engagement. Isolating the operational impact of your social business strategies and then optimizing them is what mature social businesses are gearing up for today. This closes the loop and drives the value organizations are seeking from social media. As Denis Pombriant recently observed, performance management is king today when it comes to marketing and engagement
There are numerous implications to a data-driven social business and I’ll continue exploring them in the near future. In particular, however, it’s increasingly clear that companies that lack the last three items in the list above will significantly underperform their peers that do. Underperformers in the near-term will also lack investment in broad-based social media and big data capabilities. In fact, the perspective described here is the realization of successful cross-functional capabilities that rest on a matured foundation of technology and social business transformation. Some organizations are riding this wave today; it remains unclear what happens to those that cannot but it can’t be a very bright future.
To get a broader view of what’s happening as the industry matures, I’d like to hear how you’re seeing how organizations are maturing their social business efforts, using the vital data from their communities, and getting results. In the meantime, I am planning to focus over the next few months on the domains of marketing, sales, and customer care when it comes to combining social media and big data technology together to achieve a high-level of impact for our businesses. I’d like to invite you to please share your thoughts below.