The Value of a Social Business Plan

You have to love it when a plan comes together, even when it takes a lot longer than you originally envisaged. More than a year ago, we the founders of iGo2,  took out a weekend to have an ‘Indaba’ (An indaba is an important conference held by the izinDuna (principal men) of the Zulu and Xhosa peoples of South Africa). We held this Indaba in a cold, wind swept farm shed to decide the direction of iGo2 and plan for how we wanted the business to develop and operate and what kind of social business services we wanted to provide our valued clients. We took some decisions about the direction we felt we needed to head to provide true differentiated value – and we argued back and forth about many points. But we  essentially put a plan together about who we wanted be, what we wanted to provide, how we wanted to partner and why we felt becoming a social business was going to be a requirement for all businesses large and small.

Even back then we recognised this is not about the social media networks themselves. As interesting as they might be, they are in a sense only the conduits and pipes that carry the key data in the new media revolution. That, of course, is the digital social communications – the conversations if you will that represent the social intelligence that can help a business transform the way it connects and engages with its customers.

That’s why we don’t spend a lot of time on whether Facebook has this or that feature or issue – or Twitter or LinkedIn or name this social network. And the current ‘gushing’ around Google+ is almost obscene! What matters is where the key customers are engaging for YOUR business – and those are the networks that you need to engage in. More interesting is what form should that engagement take and how do you make it different from that of your competitors.

So we decided to focus on what we thought would be the keys to a business being able to harness the power of the social web. And we wanted to provide the services that organisations need to help maximise the potential of new media for their business:

1. Social Business Training and Consulting – so we all became Certified Strategists in Social Media.

2. A ‘social’ sales focused B2B social business solution and consulting through a partnership with InsideView. We saw Sales as one of the most affected parts of any organisation by the social media ‘revolution’ and the key customer facing department that needed to transform its processes for engagement.

3. A Social Community  solution that allows organisations to build compelling customer and employee communities. What better way to foster loyalty, drive innovation, develop better market understanding  and develop brand advocates than through branded communities? Last week we announced a partnership with Telligent to help deliver this vision.

4. A Social Analytics platform  that supports both our research for Social Media Assessments  as well as the provision of Social Intelligence Services. We believe that you cannot develop an effective social business strategy unless you understand through an assessment where you are, where you need to go and what is required to get you there (a social business strategy). Social intelligence is the process of monitoring, collecting, and analyzing social data to make informed and agile  business and policy decisions.  Social intelligence makes sense of the endless number of tweets, comments, posts, and other social data and turns it into actionable insight. And every company needs this capability because there is literally a river of this data. Our current partnership with Sysomos allows us to undertake the deep research required for assessments and other one off projects whilst also providing almost real time social intelligence services.

5. The capability to assist organisations to improve and develop the RELEVANT social presence after the assessment, the creation of a social business strategy with measurable objectives and the intelligence services in place. This really is a Ready, Aim, Fire approach that we see in so few competitive engagements.

And we wanted to do all this whilst remaining CRM agnostic. We believe this allows us to deliver the appropriate services and solutions to our clients as well as having the wherewithall to speak intelligently to any company about the whole Social CRM,  Social Business and social media journey.

After more than a year, we finally have all the pieces in place – the partnerships, the tools, the knowledge and through our early customers the experience to be able to deliver on OUR brand promise.

Ah, you have to love it when a plan comes together. But now the hard work truly starts.

Will B