These posts were originally published as a three-part series on Social Business News: Part I, Part II, Part III
Part I – Appeal To The Mind
If you’re on this blog, you’re probably a believer in the idea of Social Business. You probably have some knowledge on the subject. You have probably even read a book or two (maybe more).
Chances are also pretty good that at least some of you reading this are NOT the decision maker for whether or not your company proceeds down the path toward becoming a Social Business.
But just because you believe in the extraordinary opportunities that social tools and processes can provide a company, doesn’t mean that you know how to get buy-in.
Today, I’m going to provide the first part of a framework for getting the social business buy-in you need to transform your company.
The First Step To Getting Social Business Buy-In:
Appeal To The Mind
There will be three steps necessary to getting buy-in, and the first is to engage the decision maker’s mind.
We do this most effectively by walking them from the past into the future, making stops along the way to build a case that the world is changing, in some cases gradually, and in other cases explosively.
We need them to see that the world is smaller, faster and more connected. We need them to see that information is right at our fingertips and that connectivity is part of our everyday lives. It has forever changed how we: communicate, complain, promote, seek help, find information, and share information.
The key is to get them to see inevitability and change. To open the conversation for Social Business is simply to open the conversation for re-examining how we do things based on how the world has changed, and (likely) will change.
Here are the two interrelated factors to focus on:
- The Evolution Of How We Communicate And Find Information
- The Changing Face Of The Workforce and Consumers
How We Communicate And Find Information Has Changed / Is Changing
One of my favorite ways to illustrate this is to talk about services and to engage the decision maker directly.
“In 1995, let’s say you were looking for a *plumber, how would you find one?”
Inevitably, the answer is always the same ..
I’ve asked the question over 50 times and gotten “Yellow Pages” as the answer all 50 times.
“Now, in 2004, you’re looking for a plumber, how would you find one?”
The answer is always one of two things: “the Internet” or .. Google.
In just 10 short years, our collective behaviors changed in this country. The decision maker will see this because they know it is true, they’ve experienced it.
“How would you find a plumber now?”
The truth is, they may not even know, they may say “Google” again, and that’s not wrong…but it’s worth showing them several other possibilities.
- Run a search on Twitter
- Go to Yelp, run a search, and sort the plumbers by rating, then ask the decision maker which plumber they’d choose.
- Go to Facebook and run a few
graphsearches for “my friends who work as plumbers” or “my friends that lie plumbing”
- Pull out your iPhone and ask Siri, or pull out your Android and ask Google.
The key is to show them how many other options have emerged. Make sure to reinforce that this is about more than just technology, this is about human behavior.
*Obviously plumbing is just an example and might not be the best way to make your case, so find the right example to make your case, but walk them through the steps.
The Changing Workforce and Consumer
Here’s where the case really gets made in conjunction with the last points. According to research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, a full 72% of online adults use social networking sites; and when you break that down by age you get some very interesting stats:
- 89% of 18-29 year olds (millennials)
- 78% of 30-49 year olds
- 60% of 50-64 year olds
- 43% of 65+
The 43% of 65+ individuals represents an increase from 13% in 2009.
The 65+ crowd is using the internet more and more. Everyone is getting involved. But let’s back up…
- Did you know that 56% of the current workforce is between 16 and 44?
- Did you know that by 2025, 75% of the ENTIRE workforce will be made up of millennials?
Millennials are different, and what they expect from the companies they work for and the companies they buy from will require companies to re-examine internal processes, policies, and methods of communication with the outside world.
All of this data points towards widespread adoption of the technologies that are changing the way we communicate and find information (see above). It also points to the necessity of understanding how these shifts will affect a business in the coming years.
The genie will not go back in the bottle, this train will not stop.
Part II – Appeal To The Wallet
Welcome back. If you’re just joining us for the first time, this is part two of a three part series on how to build the case for social business and get buy-in from the decision makers in your organization. You can check out part one here.
We started out making the case that the shift for social business is a necessity borne out of inevitability. Human behavior has changed as a result of technology and the way we communicate and source information has made it a necessity for businesses to adapt.
Additionally, millennials are joining the workforce, obtaining higher ranking positions, and making more of the decisions. They will also increasingly influence the entire economy by how they choose to spend their disposable income.
But there’s more to consider than just the inevitable future…what about the present?
The Second Step To Getting Social Business Buy-In:
Appeal To The Wallet
Let’s be honest with one another, when it comes down to it, decision makers often care about one thing: money. In most cases, the belief is that unless you are saving it or making it, you’re not driving business value. Obviously we can wrestle with that all day and talk about more intangible benefits that social tools can provide to a company, but in the end your boss wants to know how it affects the bottom line.
Making the case for social media marketing, internal social collaboration tools, and the cultural shift towards openness and accountability, is typically best presented next to dollar signs.
Asking simple questions
- Can increased productivity impact the bottom line?
- What about customer retention? Does retaining a customer improve revenue and decrease expenses?
- Can innovation and ideation drive revenue?
Why should you ask those questions?
The reason to ask these questions is because these are all improvements that can impact the company’s bottom line.
- More productivity means a lower cost of goods and services produced.
- Though there’s no consensus on exactly how much more it costs to get a new customers than to keep an existing one, the results are clear…it costs more to get a new client than to keep an old one.
- If innovation and ideation aren’t ways to increase revenue, someone better tell Apple, Amazon and Google immediately. They’re wasting money!
The data has shown that social tools, when properly deployed can lead to improvements in all of these areas and more…
We haven’t even begun to see all of the benefits that internal social collaboration can provide, but what company doesn’t want::
- increased brand awareness
- improved customer service
- more engaged employees
- faster decision making
- less meetings
- less email
Sounds pretty good to me and it seems like all of those benefits make a pretty compelling case, that social business can actually stuff those wallets with a little more cash.
Part III – Appeal To The Heart
So hopefully by now you’ve read the first two parts of making the case for social business. The first step was to appeal to the mind by showcasing the inevitability of this shift. The second step was to highlight the business value that social business tools and processes can unlock.
Today, we touch on my favorite part of social business. Maybe it’s because I’m a peace, love, unity, and respect kinda guy, or maybe it’s just because I like people. Maybe it’s because I’m tired of being disrespected as a customer and under-appreciated as an employee.
But it’s probably because I’m fascinated and enchanted by the power and opportunity that the social movement provides.
Sometimes, on a very rare occasion, you can find a decision maker who is not only willing to do something because they think it’s the smart thing to do, and not just because they see it will be a profitable thing to do…but also because they feel that it is the right thing to do.
The Third Step To Getting Social Business Buy-In:
Appeal To The Heart
One of the great things about social business is that, when implemented properly, with the heart in the right place…everyone wins.
Social technologies have changed business in some very profound ways. Most notably, social has disrupted the balance of power.
In the days of prior to social media, companies had the megaphone and they, with the help of advertisers, had the lion’s share of influence in how a brand would be perceived. Word of mouth has always been there but it spread much more slowly.
Fast forward to today and now it is the consumer who has the voice and the customer has as much information about a company and its products, as the salespeople do.
Whereas companies used to be able to just talk, now they must listen…and that’s a great thing.
Likewise, where customers used to be passive consumers of the brand, they are now the collective architects…and that’s a great thing too.
And the employee, who used to be nothing more than a piece of the machine, can now elevate their position through hard work, knowledge, passion, and connectivity….and yes, that’s a great thing too.
- Great companies that act in their customers’ and employees’ best interests will be rewarded by the customers and employees that share the same values;
- Employees that delight the customer and bring value to the company will make themselves indispensable and vastly more marketable when looking for new positions; and
- Customers that follow brands, contribute ideas, and connect with employees, will get what they need more quickly, and have the opportunity to command more respect.
So long as all parties involved respect the others…everybody wins.
Here’s some of the reasons why customers win in a social business environment:
- They are respected, acknowledged and appreciated because their voices are loud and influential;
- They get better products because companies can improve by listening to feedback;
- They get lower prices because the internet makes a more competitive landscape;
- They get faster and better customer service because of new technologies;
- They know better which companies to trust because of the transparency social media provides; and
- They can feel more connected and loyal to a company because of shared values exposed by the company’s voice and content.
Here’s some of the reasons why customers win in a social business environment:
- They are acknowledged and appreciated;
- They are given more opportunities for creativity and contribution;
- They can become more motivated through internal competition and collaboration; and
- They can feel more driven by purpose in a more well connected and open company.
- More engaged employees;
- Greater number of customer advocates and internal champions;
- Learning from customers;
- Reduced support costs, cost per acquisition;
- Increased reach, awareness, leads, and sales; and
- the ability to change the world.
Imagine what the world looks like when customers are more appreciated and the level of accountability their voice necessitates helps to make better designed products, with less waste, less crap and better customer service.
Imagine what the world looks like when employees are respected and appreciated at work because they are given the ability to contribute and collaborate, to do work that matters.
Imagine what it looks like when our companies are driven by more than just the desire to grow profitability, but instead a world where work doesn’t have to feel like such a chore, and being a consumer doesn’t feel like a choosing the lesser of two evils.
Also published on Medium.