Why social business needs cultural change in any brand

Change Priorities

Change Priorities (Photo credit: Christine ™)

When brands think about using social media across their business, the focus is usually on the things you will do, the tools you will have in place, the audiences you will work with and how you will report on progress. But more often than not any social business initiatives will need cultural change in your own teams if they are really to be a success.

Any new social initiative should not just be about bolting something on to an existing campaign, process or activity; initiatives that are done like this are the most difficult to make work. Social will have biggest impact when it is more fundamental to what you are trying to do.

So rather than just adding a Twitter account to an existing customer service channel, the real return will be when you think about ways to start redesigning your customer service based on consumer behaviour and the tools that are available.

And to make the most of things that are this fundamental you need cultural change in any organisation if they are to be a success.

When thinking about cultural change there are usually three main considerations:

1. Do your team really understand the role social plays for you?

Most people will use some form of social media in their personal life, and the danger is to take this understanding and behaviour into the workplace. That’s not necessarily the most useful way of thinking of social business. Whilst you are unlikely to articulate clear objectives for your personal Facebook page, or to plan content for the next three months, it is critical you do this as a business.

Your team need to truly understand what social means for a business, and specifically what it means for your business and for their role.

2. Do your team have the skills to make the most of social?

For anybody, social presents new opportunities and also new skills that need to be learned – technologies are changing and consumer behaviours are changing so businesses need to be able to constantly adapt to capitalise on these.

Education and a forum for sharing what is happening are critical to the success of any social business, and this needs to be at all levels but is critically important at senior executive level. Those people driving the business need to understand the opportunities (and limitations) of social if they are to effect real change.

3. Is your team structured in the right way for social?

Many of the ways we structure organisations are based on the traditional ways we have and still work. And they are often effective. But when you are thinking about social business you should consider if these same structures and processes work.

If you are redesigning your customer care processes, for example, do you still need the team to come to a central office every day? Should they all be working office hours or the hours you get most interactions in social media? Even should customer service in social be done by a particular team alone or be supported actively by people across the business who work in the areas being discussed.

The danger with social media is that you focus on what you are doing and that you bolt it on to existing processes, programmes and campaigns. That is always a real shame – you will probably miss the real opportunities that exist across your business, and when you think about social business in this way you will need to consider internal cultural change if it is to really work.