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Interview: Mark Fidelman on How Creativity, Innovation and Golf Relate to Social Business

If you haven’t heard of Mark Fidelman, you should become familiar with his name. 

Mark is CEO of Evolve!, Inc, author of Socialized! How the Most Successful Businesses Harness the Power of Social, and BusinessNext Social Conference Director. He also writes the popular Forbes column: Socialized and Mobilized. Follow Fidelman on Twitter @markfidelman.

We asked him a few questions about his book, the ROI of social and what we can expect at the BusinessNext Conference in Las Vegas January 6-8th.

Blake Landau: Who is responsible for driving a social change transformation within a company?

Mark Fidelman: The Chief Social Officer (CSO) is responsible for creating the social business vision and strategy and ensuring that the proper team members and resources are in place to execute on it. The CSO is also responsible for socializing the strategy with key executive stakeholders so that the organization is in alignment.

The CSO should focus on 5 key areas:

  • The digital village (internal social networks): people are responsible for building and maintaining the health of the digital village.
  • The digital network (external social networks): people responsible for engaging customers, prospects and partners on external social networks, blogs and other social media.
  • Community managers: people responsible for nurturing and developing the digital communities by engaging in them with helpful content and answers.
  • Analyticals: data jocks responsible for making sense of the social data created internally and externally in order to draw insights for the organization.
  • Content producers. Unless everyone on the social team possesses all of the qualities of expert content designer, extraordinary writer and Hollywood video producer, you’ll need a team to create quality content for them.

BL: In the introduction of your book Socialized! you ask a series of questions posed to business executives to understand the state of their social program. What inspired those questions?

MF:These are the same questions I ask each of my clients at my company Evolve! Inc. I am attempting to understand how the executive views their social initiatives. Are they strategic views or are they more tactical? Do they understand the power of social networks both inside and outside their organization or not? I mean, these executive built their careers using different tools and methodologies. Most of this is foreign to them.

BL: In your book you talk about how organizations can create a purpose for the organization to rally around.

MF: Is this a chance for businesses to get creative?

Yes, if you look at what Coke did with the National Parks contest, the brand created a purpose around a social cause and benefited from the attention it received from doing good. Not only did one of the parks receive a large donation, Coke benefited from a lot of free exposure as a good corporate citizen.

BL: What if they have trouble getting creative?

MF: That’s where hiring a good Chief Social Officer (Social Strategist in smaller companies) comes in to play. All brands serious about becoming a social business must have a social strategist. The social strategists is responsible for working with the company’s employees to come up with specific social campaigns that align with the company’s business objectives.

BL: In your book you talk about culture. In your mind what is the number one management mistake you see executives making around social?

MF: Prevailing wisdom preaches a command-and-control style of leadership, in which we expect employees to become more competent simply by listening to those above them. In reality, a command and control style is a sure-fire path to demotivation — employees whose voices are not being heard, or even acknowledged, eventually become demoralized and thus less effective.

The companies that are leading in today’s world understand not only how to make great products but more importantly how to create cultures that continue to make great products well into the future. That’s where their focus lies — in developing cultures in which innovation is connected to every facet of the business.


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