What’s the Future of Business?

Brian Solis is an author, analyst, and a principal at Altimeter Group, a firm focused on disruptive technology. He’s one of the world’s premier thought leaders in new media. His blog is one of the world’s top resources for business strategy and marketing.

What I most enjoy about Brian is that he has the ability to take complex subjects and break them down so you can understand them. His latest book, What’s the Future of Business? accomplishes that in a very different way than his previous work.9781118456538

Brian, before I jump into the latest book and the future, I want to slow down and talk about the past and the present. Because of the nature of your work, I imagine that you’re surrounded by social media experts most of the time. But there are still companies that are just now jumping in or maybe are still on the sidelines. With that in mind, what are the three biggest reasons a business should be utilizing social media today?

First, let me just say that I appreciate this opportunity to speak with you. While social media is part of what I do, it is true that I do have a unique opportunity to see how businesses are or aren’t using social media to reach connected consumers. We live in a social economy where social is an extension of customer engagement. Social media become the channels and mechanisms to listen, learn, engage, and adapt.

If you are not competing for the future, you are competing for irrelevance. -Brian Solis

The first reason that social media is important to businesses is that it amplifies the voice of the customers, their expectations and questions, their touch points, and most importantly the experiences they have and share. There’s much to learn by listening and observing. It is a form of digital anthropology where you gain not only insights but empathy. Try to not let it intimidate you . . . if you’re human, you can feel what’s taking place and as social is a very human series of networks, you can understand how to glean and deliver value as a result.

The second reason is that having a notable presence in networks of interest allows a brand to earn relevance where the attention of Generation C (connected) is focused. This isn’t a channel for the same one-sided marketing as executed in other channels. Social media is just that, it’s social. It’s not all about marketing. It’s about engagement in the context of how people hope to interact with the company.

The Four Moments of Truth in WTF The Four Moments of Truth in WTF

Last, but not least, is alignment. See, to build customer relationships requires that we see the customers for who they are and what they need to build relationships with the businesses they support. To do so requires a “social” philosophy where social media becomes an extension of a more engaging corporate mindset. Since social is bigger than marketing, key stakeholders from other functions and lines of business, or in the case of small businesses, other people responsible for the customer experience, need to come together to talk about the customer journey and the desired experience they wish to deliver. Today, businesses are aligned around the traditional funnel, but each department is responsible for its own portion. Whereas in connected consumerism, the journey is much more dynamic and experiential. And, since people have access to publishing these experiences in places of influence, these experiences contribute to a new reality. By rallying stakeholders together to deliver a consistent, meaningful and shareable experience, people come together around something that’s bigger than the team they represent. Alignment is powerful and required for the future of transformation and evolution.

Where are companies still getting social media wrong?

Dear Santa: My Twitter Wish List

Dear Santa,

This year, I’ve fallen in love with Twitter.  You remember I sent my first tweet just over a year ago, and I’ve never looked back.  I launched this blog one year ago, and Twitter connected me with many helpful people.

This Christmas, I’d really appreciate it if you could just change a few things on the service for me and a few hundred million users.  Here’s my list:

I’m always getting direct messages saying things like:

“look at this pic of you!”

“someone caught you in this video.”

“Horrible things about you!”

“find out who unfollowed you.”

“Early investors got filthy rich.”

“Someone is making cruel things up about you!”

I don’t know what these are, and I think they may be viruses.  Why not create an easy way to report and remove these?  Or a “spam alert” button?  Then Twitter could sweep them away for good.

Oh, and the people doing this, would you mind putting coal in their stockings?

Endorsing the Endorsing on LinkedIn

LinkedIn

Photo by TheSeafarer on flickr.

Not too many weeks ago, I received an email from LinkedIn indicating someone had endorsed me for a skill.  After deleting the message, I noticed another one appeared the following day.  Taking the bait, I clicked, signed in, and saw the new Endorsements feature at work.

I thought about blogging about this new feature immediately.  After thinking about it, I decided to wait a few weeks to see if my opinion changed.

Endorsement Criticisms

The new feature has been widely criticized.  And, at first, I was with the critics.  Many people are complaining:

When I asked my own network for opinions, they were varied.  Here are a few:

How It Works

13 Tips for Twitter Effectiveness

Photo by cobalt123 on flickr.

This time last year, I was a Twitter skeptic.  How do you find the time to tweet?  Who cares what you ate for dinner?  I don’t care what you are watching on TV.

What I knew of the service was limited because I wasn’t a participant.  My judgment of Twitter was like watching a show from the obstructed view section, then trying to rate the performance.

I finally joined Twitter and sent my first tweet on November 16, 2011.  A month later, I was fully “Twidicted.”  I launched a blog and one of my first posts was Why You Shouldn’t Avoid Twitter Any Longer.

As I started to gain followers, I learned a great deal from them.  Here are some of my Twitter tips and common mistakes (yes, many of which I proudly made personally).

Tip 1:  Learn from role models.

 Once I joined, I jumped right in.  Watching others, reading articles, and asking questions was all part of the fun.  Peppering my celebrity and non-celebrity friends alike about how they use the service made an interesting subject.

The Twitter community is made up of people happy to help, who love the service, and have information to share.  Ask away.

For me, the key question was:  How do I use this social media tool effectively?

 Tip 2:  Start with purpose.

3 Steps to Building Your Online Presence With Ron Edmondson

Ron Edmondson is quick to tell you that he is first and foremost a pastor.  And, while that is true, he also has a strong online presence that uniquely qualifies him to talk about social media.  His leadership blog is widely read, and he is active on Twitter and Facebook.

I met Ron online through Twitter, and we began discussing various leadership issues.  Just north of Nashville Ron started one of the fastest growing churches in the U.S.  He recently moved to Kentucky to lead another church.  Before he joined the ministry, Ron was a business owner.  His experiences running a small business, starting and rapidly growing organizations, and leading online were all topics I wanted to ask him in person.

In this nine-minute interview, we discuss:

  • The similarities and differences between leading a business and a church
  • How he has grown a church through the use of technology and social media
  • Why he was an early adopter of the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, and blogging
  • How he found his “blogging voice”
  • Mistakes he made along the way

I especially appreciated Ron’s advice to leaders who want to start building an online presence: