Tribalizing Business: Steps To Changing The Game

hutsHumans are genetically predisposed to commune. When they do so within socially optimized corporate environments this results in exponential amplification across return on engagement metrics.

The results of a recent Deloitte survey of over 400 organizations, 2009 Tribalization of Business Study, provide a solid baseline for exploring where business is at with respect to providing such socially optimized environments.

First up, the survey found that over 50% of enterprises that had previously made some investment in social media were planning on maintaining this community-status quo. Over 40% planned to increase their investment in this area and only 6% were decreasing their involvement.

This tells us that business tribalization is becoming a reality. Or does it? Not so fast – there remains a lot of work to be done before we can comfortably declare enterprise engagement as being widespread.

Across 36% of companies surveyed, social media continues to be deployed out of the marketing function. While it is good to see that multiple departments are managing social media in as many as 15% of survey respondents, this can be problematic depending on the way in which management takes place. Clear decision-making processes need to be put in place that match the real time nature of social media.

Methods for monitoring and measuring success are currently predominantly based on participation-related analytics. The downside of doing so is that it can create a false view on how enterprises are benefitting from being more social.

Remember, that higher quality engagement trumps quantity and will lead to more sustainable inbound and outbound engagement. This is highly relevant as evidenced from the responses to the survey. Respondents indicated that the biggest obstacles they faced were getting people to participate regularly.

By better formulating their goals, and by aligning measurement with the achievement of these goals, companies will know how their investment into such areas as employing more staff to manage social media activities are faring.

The current staffing trend is to have 2-5 people, but interestingly almost 5% of those surveyed have more than 10 staff in such roles.

The survey concluded that “new management strategies and practices” are going to be critical for extracting “true business value” from social integration.

Tribalizing business in a game changing way requires an all-of-enterprise commitment and sustained ecosystem-wide engagement.

Re-architecting the business paradigm through social business design

Shropshire BridgeThe current enterprise branding/marketing outflows and monitoring systems are not designed for engagement. Instead they are asynchronous push mechanisms –

“Look at me, I’m the cool brand you need to identify with”;

“Hey guy, you really need to buy me, I’m the product that will make you whole again”.

The challenge for anyone working in the social business design arena is not being complacent and accepting the parameters set by clients –

“We have a total budget of $500k, how can you use this to push us in our market using these new social media tools”.

The challenge is convincing a client to change their entire product development, marketing, sales and distribution cycles to become more integrated around a synchronously engaged model, a model that goes way beyond retrofitting.

The challenge as well is telling them that far from making their business more cutting edge, in fact, this radical redesign will make them far more like the businesses that existed pre-industrial revolution.

In putting forward these re-architecting challenges, I am building on a thesis put forward by Luke Harvey-Palmer:

So much of the theory and practice that resides at the core of Social Business Design sounds like the same principles that successful villages and communities existed upon largely up until the early 18th Century.  For these villages, commerce was very much about the community, and conversations and relationships.  With the Industrial Revolution and the rise of globalisation most recently, corporations have forgotten the notions of community, collaboration and consultation.  Before the advent of advertising and the ‘agency’ people were persuaded to buy products by the people who made and distributed the products…and this all took place on local markets, where everyone gathered to enjoy the social aspects of business!

and continued by Robin Hamman of the Dachis Group:

Whilst it’s true that, at present, most social media monitoring is being used to protect existing mass processes, I remain enthusiastic about it’s potential to help genuinely social businesses gain a foothold by helping them identify opportunities, make contact with those with a need (“the market”) and build awareness of their ability and eagerness to fulfill that need. That, however, requires more than just a monitoring solution – it requires a consumer focused strategy, utilising a variety of social tools to support consumer involvement in every step of the process, including product or service definition, testing, refinement and marketing.

Being bold with clients about re-architecting rather than retrofitting will ultimately deliver far greater return on (change) investment.

[pic courtesy of Burwash Calligrapher]