Originally posted at IBM Smarter Commerce… Redefining commerce in the age of the customer. 


A comment by Dino Dogan on my post regarding Scaling Social Messaging got me thinking recently. He said:

“Businesses try to force-fit their own framework onto the existing social framework. That’s a mistake. Social framework is much bigger and stronger. When two frameworks meet, one has to give in. In this case, biz framework has no choice but to give in or lose out. “

This is totally in opposition to the way businesses approached frameworks in the past. In the past, the frameworks were controlled, imposed, and enforced onto consumers by a business.”

And he’s right on the money. In fact, there are three BIG ways this framework factor fails when attempting to apply it to social:

  • Advertising: Probably the number-one problem businesses have when they’re entrenched in old-style marketing thinking is trying to use social as just another advertising medium. There are tons of examples of how and why this fails—yet many brands still don’t get it, and it’s painful to watch. Maybe it’s the word “media” in social media that gives people the wrong idea, I’m not sure. However, advertising has no place in conversation, and trying to fit that square peg in a round hole will always be an exercise in frustration. Learn what social conversation is all about—and alter your framework to fit!
  • Customer Service: Here’s another problem that made itself pretty evident early in the evolution of social, with epic fails by some of the biggest brands out there (United, anyone?). When rigid policies smack up against the power of collective customer voice—something’s gotta give, and it’s always the brand reputation. Brands that LISTEN to their customers and develop more responsive customer service policies find that social is an incredible tool for differentiating them from competitors that are still stuck in the old framework. Successes abound when customer service gets a re-fit, and brands put feet on the ground to back it up. Given the nature of the social community, and how we’ve seen those conversations change the world, businesses need to understand that they live in a glass house now. Responsiveness and transparency are the new reality when it comes to brand advocacy and customer loyalty. Adapt or die.
  • Employee Participation: It’s plain and simple—employee censorship on social channels is a disaster for brands. We can no longer control the message, folks. As Dino stated, the social framework is “bigger and stronger” than our puny frameworks. Instead of fighting it every step of the way, USE it to your advantage, or you’ll pay a steep price in diminished return. Your employees (unleashed) can be wonderful additions to your company’s voice, advocacy, and can be the best way to humanize and personalize your brand on social channels. Change your thinking!

The truth of the matter is that the social evolution is a business evolution too. Only by changing our old frameworks can we possibly hope to succeed—because social has completely altered the business landscape, and on a global scale. What other ways should businesses change their frameworks? Please share your ideas… I’d love to hear them.

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