THE BLOG
04/02/2013 05:22 pm ET | Updated Jun 02, 2013

Can Business Use Social Media to Succeed?

It's no secret that the Internet and social media can fundamentally transform the way businesses market and interact with today's connected consumers. In the space of a decade Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and others have all exploded into the national consciousness. We can hardly go anywhere without witnessing people who are fully engaged with their smartphones and tablets.

Usually the leaders in observing changing consumer habits, businesses are lagging far behind in trying to figure out how to utilize these transformed behaviors to their advantage. Just think about some of the companies in business today. How many were here yesterday and how many will still be here tomorrow? What is the crucial difference that will make one business succeed beyond anyone's wildest imagination and another formerly successful business crash and burn?

JC Penney was once at the top of the retail world, but now watches the losses pile up as customers flock away from their newly-reconfigured stores and marketing strategy. Best Buy made great gains as the purveyor of modern technology, but is now closing many of those same retail locations. For some, it is a basic misunderstanding of changing consumer needs, but for others it is a fundamental refusal to engage consumers on their terms in the social media universe.

It's Time for Business to Get Social

It's obvious that businesses will have to undertake a major transformation in consumer interaction, but how can this be accomplished when so many CMOs have not taken the social media world to heart? Thankfully, digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Brian Solis, has released a new book which will illuminate the way. What's the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences (WTF) is a thoughtful, straightforward explanation of why and how businesses can become more personal and create consumer experiences instead of just marketing, selling and servicing them.

The follow-up piece to his seminal work, The End of Business As Usual: Rewire the Way You Work to Succeed in the Consumer Revolution, Solis uses his insights on the effects of emerging media to take the WTF reader through a journey of discovery and enlightenment. He helps the reader understand the dynamics of the changing consumer landscape and provides solid input on what companies can do to adapt and lead.

A principal analyst at the Altimeter Group, Solis knows the difference between online influence and online popularity, and understands that connected consumers expect and demand more from the companies they deal with and the products they buy. When dissatisfied, these empowered consumers are more than willing to share a negative experience, but it is much more difficult to create a positive experience that will be shared amongst their circles of influence. He uses his three principles of influence -- reach, resonance and relevance -- to show corporate leaders and marketers how to create and insure an amazing consumer experience.

Solis asserts that "The future of business is about creating experiences, products, programs and processes that evoke splendor and rekindle meaningful and sincere interaction and growth. At the center of this evolution -- or (r)evolution -- is the experience." By learning to create experiences, businesses will be released from the current unproductive norm of simply responding to experiences.

Although Solis is known the world over as a thought leader in new media, he is best recognized for his capacity to make seemingly simple, yet potentially trend-shattering observations. When he says that the future of business comes down to relevance and the ability to understand how technology affects decision-making, we had better sit up and pay attention.