The following is Part One of an interview with Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt, authors of A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive describing the ways social media has changed customer service expectations, and how businesses need to change their strategies going forward.
Why do you identify social media as the catalyst for the next major business era?
Ted: “Social media has proven to be an insurmountable market force, changing how we innovate, collaborate, serve our customers, hire and develop team members, motivate others toward a common mission, communicate with stakeholders, display our character, and demonstrate accountability. This isn’t change for the sake of change. Neither is this change to fine-tune the status quo, as we saw in the twentieth century with Six Sigma, Total Quality Management, and the Lean movement, which simply helped bureaucracies function at a more efficient, profitable level. This is real, systematic change. Human change. The Industrial Age is dead. Welcome to the Social Age.”
What exactly do you mean by “human change”?
Mark: “We humans, at our core, are social creatures. Social media enables us to be more… us. Embracing the Social Age goes beyond establishing a Facebook fan page and recruiting on LinkedIn. Business leaders need to realize the monumental impact social media has on their customers, employees, and collaborative partnerships, as well as their bottom line. It has shifted the balance of power from message-controlling corporations and institutions to people, who can now voice their opinions, and whose opinion can be amplified a million times over with a single tweet. Social has transformed how we think, work, and live. It is fundamentally about the power of social—about making business more human—and, despite its digital nature, not at all about media or technology. Social is global change for good.”
There’s nothing good about a CEO’s embarrassing comments going viral or a virtual lynch mob.
Ted: “With social, as with all things human, both the good and the bad are magnified; for every story of good-gone-social, it seems there are a thousand social sharks and trolls ready to feed on the bad. Adapting to social’s seismic changes, like any human change, isn’t easy. Every leader challenged with taking an organization into the Social Age must place their company square in the path of good. Enable those around you to do right by the customers, employees, vendors, and communities you serve. Build a culture where giving gets noticed. And be fully accountable just after something goes bad—but before it gets much worse. In a world gone social, this is how business is done.”
Throughout your book, you repeatedly emphasize one word: “engagement.” Why?
Mark: “Engagement is the cornerstone of the Social Age. Active listening, collecting and acting on input, providing both formal and informal feedback loops, giving recognition and expressing appreciation are all a huge part of success in a world gone Social. Engagement has earned its place in the buzzword hall of fame—it is that important. That said, many people who throw the word around have no idea what it really means. Engagement isn’t good marketing. It isn’t good content. Its success isn’t measured by a number of Twitter followers or Facebook likes. Whether speaking digitally or in person, engagement is our ability to communicate well with all stakeholders in any conversation. In the Social Age, it is imperative that we engage with customers, vendors, influencers, advocates, and brand ambassadors—as well as employees.”
Tomorrow, in Part 2, Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt will continue to describe how business needs to change in a social world, and will explain specific steps managers and leaders can take to become effective social leaders.
Ted Coiné was recently named a Forbes Top 10 Social Media Power Influencer. He is co-founder of Switch and Shift, a blog focused on leadership, culture, and change in the social century.
Mark Babbitt is CEO and Founder of YouTern, a social community for young careerists that Mashable calls a “Top 5 Online Community for Starting Your Career.”