Incredibly, it’s six years this week since we produced Show 4 of the csuite podcast which was on the topic of Social Business, so we decided to get our own Sophie Atherton to investigate what’s changed in that time . . .
In episode four of the csuite podacst, a Social Business was defined as ‘an organisation whose culture and systems encourage networks and people to drive business value’.
Running a Social Business does not just mean handing all social media responsibilities to the Marketing department to deal with and leaving it there. Used properly, social media can have a positive effect on the public profile of an organisation and could be utilised by all departments to promote the business. Additionally, it could provide transparency for stakeholders, and it can be a useful tool to highlight the values of the business. It should be deeply embedded into the culture of the organisation as a highly cost-effective way to engage with consumers and vice versa.
Studies have shown that 90% of people use social media to communicate directly with brands. Modern society has placed much emphasis on popular opinion, and many people consult social media profiles to inform their choices. Social media is a vastly accessible way to leave reviews, to complain about products or services, or simply to gain the attention of an organisation and its followers. Businesses can exploit this hugely useful – and free – tool to gain instant feedback, and for the opportunity to take quick action as and when necessary. It could be used to gauge popular opinion on new initiatives before they hit the market and help with decision-making. Other studies have shown that 74% of consumers use social media to make a buying decision. The use of social media and a large social media presence is therefore vital to business, and should be incorporated into all aspects of the organisation to allow cohesion between its online and offline profile.
Some aspects of a social business have changed since we recorded this episode of the csuite podcast, back in 2014. One example is the new social media platform TikTok, which in that time, has gained over 800million users worldwide and is now the most downloaded app on the Apple Appstore. It is hard to imagine that less than 6 years ago it was unheard of! How will Social Media look in another 6 years? And can business continue to keep up? It is important for business to constantly evolve and ensure they are up with the latest trends and using the most contemporary of platforms.
Social media campaigns can positively impact communities and brands. The 2020 ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement is an example of an effective social campaign that increased awareness of an important contemporary issue, and highlights the power of social media. #BlackLivesMatter was used 48 million times in 10 days across various online platforms, and there have been 12 billion views of the hashtag on TikTok. This not only demonstrates the scope and scale of social media, but also how quickly news spreads. YouTube pledged $100 million to support black creators and artists, which proves the hugely positive impact social media can have. Of course, this can work negatively; in the past there have been hacked social media accounts, accidental leaks of private information, even Twitter’s CFO accidentally tweeting private information to the public, meant for a private message!
In the 2014 csuite podcast, Ben Smith, founder of prmoment.com, observed that the practical implication of using social media is the method of integration into a business. However in 2020 businesses have pretty much got that down to a T. The main concerns are trying to keep the message consistent and brand-appropriate throughout all posts and platforms. In the podcast, Andrew Grill, who at the time of recording was the Global Social Business Partner at IBM, questioned whether brands take social media seriously, and if they simply use it to ‘pump’ their content without any real value. It might be necessary for businesses to consider appropriate training for members of staff responsible for social media posts to ensure each post has meaning and value.
In short, while Social Business reaches wider audiences and potential consumers with low costs and seamless content, in order for it to be effective it should be integrated within the business, with all employees involved and aware of its capabilities. Owing to the transparent and immediate nature of social media, businesses are able to highlight their values and culture, while maintaining open relationships with consumers and stakeholders.