The Social Feedback Cycle
For a lot of organizations—including businesses, nonprofits, and governmental agencies—use of social media very often begins in Marketing, public communications, or a similar office or department with a direct connection to customers and stakeholders.
This makes sense given that a typical driver for getting involved with social media is a slew of negative comments, a need for virality or a boost to overall awareness in the marketplace and especially in the minds and hearts of those customers increasingly out of reach of interruptive (aka traditional) media.
In a word, many organizations are looking for “engagement,” and they see social media as the way to get it. The advent of Web 2.0 and the Social Web is clearly a game-changer, on numerous fronts. Given the rush to implement, and the opening focus on marketing specifically versus the business more holistically, many social media projects end up being treated more like traditional marketing campaigns than the truly revolutionary ways in which a savvy business can now connect with and prosper through collaborative association with its customers.
As a result, the very objective—engagement, redefined in a larger social context—is missed as too many “social media campaigns” run their course and then fizzle out
Open Access to Information
The Social Feedback Cycle is important to understand because it forms the basis of social business. What the social feedback loop really represents is the way in which Internet-based publishing and social technology have connected people around business or business-like activities.
This new social connectivity applies between a business and its customers (B2C), between other businesses (B2B), between customers themselves, as is the case in support communities and similar social applications, and just as well between employees. As such, this more widespread sharing has exposed information more broadly.
Information that previously was available to only a selected or privileged class of individuals is now open to all. Say you wanted information about a hotel or vacation rental property: Unless you were lucky enough to have a friend within your personal social circle with specific knowledge applicable to your planned vacation, you had to consult a travel agent and basically accept whatever it was that you were told.
Otherwise, you faced a mountain of work doing the research yourself rather than hoping blindly for a good 6c h a p t e r 1 Social Media and Customer Engagementâ experience in someplace you’d never been before. Prior to visible rating systems—think Yelp.com here—you could “ask around” but that was about it, and “around” generally meant “nearby,” friends, family, and perhaps colleagues
Social Business: The Logical Extension
Social business follows right on the heels of the wave of interest and activity around social media and its direct application to marketing: Social business is the logical extension of 7 The Social Feedback Cycle social technology throughout and across the business. Social business takes social concepts—sharing, rating, reviewing, connecting, and collaborating—to all parts of the business.
From Customer Service to product design to the promotions team, social behaviors and the development of internal knowledge communities that connect people and their ideas can give rise to smoother and more efficient business processes. Social business— viewed in this way—becomes more about change management than marketing. That’s a big thought
Social Business Is Holistic
When you combine identity, ease of publishing, and the penchant to publish and to use shared information in purchase-related decision-making processes, the larger role of the Social Feedback Cycle and the practice of social business emerges: Larger than the loop that connects sales with marketing—one of the areas considered as part of traditional Customer Relationship Management (CRM)—the Social Feedback Cycle literally wraps the entire business
The Connected Customer
The upshot is that the customer is now in a primary role as an innovator, as a source of forward-pointing information around taste and preference, and as such is potentially the basis for competitive advantage. I say “potentially” because customers having opinions or ideas and actually getting useful information from them and then using it are two different things.
Here again, social business and the related technologies step in: Where social media marketing very often stops at the listening stage, perhaps also responding to directly raised issues in the process, social business takes two added steps.