As 2012 winds down, most corporations are in planning mode for 2013 and beyond. The question I'm being asked by senior teams I work with from Fortune 500 companies goes like this, "At the 30,000-foot level, what are the two or three critical success factors we should be focused on to move forward as a social business in 2013?"
Great question. My answer depends on where you are on the implementation of real-time social media both internally and externally.
1. Companies that are already 'going social' are clearly ahead of the game. Let's hope this is you. These are companies who have cross-functional teams thoughtfully mapping out just what it takes to succeed as a social business in terms of branding, customer service, sales, product development, collaborative work process, talent acquisition, social media policy and engagement strategies, and more.
These companies are way beyond tossing up a few Facebook pages and tipping the hat to customer service by allowing reps to monitor HootSuite, whatever that is. These companies realize that there is no talent shortage or skills gap out there. It takes a skilled Human Resources department to discover and acquire talent that's ripe for the picking. Just look at the 187 million amazing profiles on LinkedIn.
The Social Company should be focused on maximizing not just big data, but big SOCIAL data; and they should be focused on true mobile implementation across the company and the customer and supplier base. Fail fast and fail forward. If it doesn't work, move on. And keep up the corporate education efforts because the wave is huge and the ride will be long.
2. Companies who are finally ready to dive in are in for quite a bit of heavy lifting in the beginning. You're about three years behind in the education process of understanding the power of real-time social media. The good news is that you're now ready and willing to devote the resources and the time it will take. You should be reaping benefits way before this time next year.
The Ready-to-Get-Social Company should start with education. Also appoint strategic and tactical teams to quickly conduct an internal audit of where you are now and map out where you need to go. Get folks trained and bring in good, top-of-the-line business consultants who don't give you fluff, but deliver a solid game plan you can actually execute against. I work with clients in this capacity all the time and know that if there is top-down buy-in, the company will jump on this wave quickly and see results amazingly fast.
3. What if you're a head-still-in-the-sand company? You're still hoping it will all blow over and some of your senior execs even send around the occasional article from social media naysayers. "See, social media is a fad and it's going away anytime now, so we were right to ignore it."
Ok, smart guy, if that's what you want to believe. Keep your millennial workforce blocked from social sites; keep giggling at the words "Twitter and "tweet"; keep shaking your heads at the apparent silliness of Facebook. Go for it.
For you it's going to take a disaster or a crises to wake up. And then you'll be scrambling to figure out what happened and will probably end up overpaying for social media 'gurus' to come in who will make it worse. Don't say we didn't try to warn you.
The year 2013 is going to usher in a fantastic era that's made up of social, mobile, local, and big data in the cloud. It's an amazing time for whole industry transformation (education, healthcare, retail, manufacturing, government, non-profits, R&D); as well as what will happen in and among collaborative workforces, customer-driven product design, crowdfunding, and smartphone proliferation.
Let's hope you're somewhere on the path to leveraging all this power. Think of the future for your company, your customers and suppliers, and your employees. Great things are going to come to pass and I can't wait!
Beverly Macy teaches social media and global marketing and branding at the UCLA Extension. She advises Fortune 500 companies on real-time social media and is the co-author of the best-seller The Power of Real-Time Social Media Marketing. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org