• Great points, Geoff. I think in many ways it’s one of those chicken and egg things. This is one reason why I love working with small businesses and nonprofits. At the local level, they generally don’t have the silos to begin with, and one or two people handle all of those tasks. Additionally, they are usually already social and don’t even know it. The challenge is taking what they are doing offline, and adding the online component. 

    In most cases, the culture is already there. I’ve worked with a number of larger businesses that do have the silos, etc., and the ones who seem to do well with this and “get it” are the ones who still think of themselves as small businesses, even when they aren’t. We tell people to think big, perhaps we need to tell them to think small.

    • Interesting point!  I was looking at a DMA study the other day and invariably most mid to large businesses spend 5% or less on social media.  Small businesses and NPOs will spend as much as 50% on social. But I think this is an issue of financial resources and necessity. They can’t deploy massive ad campaigns or develop deep relationships with consumer or trade media.  They do have to build relationships as you noted.

  • Great questions and issues surrounding Social Media adoption and integration throughout a businesses customer facing teams.  Social Marketing is certainly one of the easiest places to begin Social integration but I do believe that most businesses will fail to effectively attain the ROI that’s possible without effective listening & engagement.  To leverage the leads that Social Marketing creates will require sales teams to begin to adopt social selling practices.  Support teams need to adopt social service systems.  Eventually the Social Marketing, Support and Sales systems will be integrated with appropriate workflow which will begin to deliver on the promise of Social Business.

    I believe the change is already in the works and it will happen in smaller businesses who are more agile and nimble and who can see the benefits more quickly.  They are also lees entrenched with cultural and managerial issue which would prevent or slow down the adoption.  

    To make this work will require a new generation of Relationship Management systems that are more focused on contacts and  social engagement.  Today’s popular CRM systems are primarly Sales Activities and reporting systems rather than effective Social Listening and Engagement.

    Great conversation starter.  I’d love to connect and discuss more with you.



    Jon Ferrara   CEO | Nimble – Social Relationships, Made Easy.twitter @jon_ferrara |

    • LOL, I guess everyone sees this differently. I see sales as one of the last places people want to have conversations, from a customer perspective.  Except when they want to buy, of course.  The other 99% of the time, no.

      But why does social have to be used for sales, when it is already proven to be the weak sister of communications media  for ROI?  Why can’t it be used for HR, product marketing, research & development, internal communications, or any other internal marketing activity?  I think the small business sales view is a very narrow method of approaching this problem.

  • Being a multi channel kind of girl, I think multi channel integration of SM will lead to social business, at least in some industries. However, it will not happen overnight, too many risk-adverse organizations out there. 

    Your statistics track with mine. One Orange Feather did primary research in the trade association space in December, and we found 73% of the 250 associations studied had added some form of social media to their marketing mix. The higher the revenue in the association, the higher the likelihood they were using social media, although LinkedIn didn’t follow the same revenue pattern. Whether SM was a knee jerk reaction to a senior executive saying “must do social media” or a planned strategy, we don’t know. What I did discover in interviews was the more sophisticated the marketing/communications department, the higher the probability of a multi-channel strategy, campaigns vs promotions. If you want to compare the stats to yours the paper is at

    • This is a very interesting study.  Thank you for sharing it here. I wonder if LinkedIn is the ubiquitous safe option for associations.  And thus they are doing meh with it.

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  • Really provoking Geoff, and I’m in agreement with you. I think language plays a big part in holding companies and nonprofits back, as well as culture (which you identify beautifully). By langauge, I’m thinking that the words “social media strategy” imply multi-channel marketing, but “networked business” or “networked nonprofit” implies a social business.

    When I assess an organization’s past social media activities, or readiness for social media, I use a social media audit tool that assesses the level of the organization’s “connected culture.” Most organizations fail miserably at this because they do not draw the lines between truly successful social media and social business. In fact, they don’t think of social media as social business at all – they consider it closer to another marketing approach, or customer service approach, or possibly fundraising approach. 

    One of the things that might push social businesses further into creation would be research that shows how a new way of doing business actually leads to higher customer satisfaction, employee productivity and satisfaction, earned revenues, etc. I’m sure there’s a study out there, and if you know if it, I’d like to read that.

    • It seems like a lot of it is salesmanship. People are trying to figure out a new way to deliver more social to organizations, and thus the phraseology. But complicated does not make a sale as we know. And its hard to make a transition to something completely new without bridging the past in with topics like workflow, optimization and more.

  • Yeah, I think multi-channel is what most will adopt. As you said, a large part of it isn’t laziness as much as what executives can understand. Even when some executives get it, they frequently revert to what they know in a few days and ask the same questions over and over. Not always, but sometimes, it makes more sense to slip it in however they see it and then help them discover the more tangible benefits along the way. 

    • I think the whole social business movement is intriguing, but I see it as more confusing than social media itself for businesses.  It may be an evolutionary concept and one that changes names again before it makes it.

  • awesome points 
    great post 

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