Social Business is Still Early Days; Major Disruption Headed Our Way #mus13

4 minute read
Anthony Myers avatar

Been hearing a bit about social media these days, eh? There's a reason it has been giving companies large and small such fits over the last four or so years, but it's still early days for social business. It's real power hasn't been unleashed just yet.

Jeremiah Owyang, of Altimeter Group, and Amber Naslund, a social business strategist at SideraWorks, spoke in detail about the possible changes coming from social media and their impact on the marketing landscape this week at the Marketo Summit.

Owyang is a popular figure in the Web strategy world, and his company's reports have been featured on CMSWire repeatedly. Naslund was formerly the communications head at Radian6, and now runs her own strategy company. Together, they helped paint a vivid image of what kind of disruption (or mess) social media has in store for not only marketers, but for how we do business altogether.

How to Engage the Dynamic Customer

Both Owyang and Naslund spoke about how social business will eventually just become business, a refrain we have heard before. But, as the title of this article points out, that is not going to happen soon. Is that a good or bad thing? It depends on how married a business is to doing things in an antiquated way.

For marketers, the content marketing trend is only a step toward a converged media world where messages from ads, blogs and social media all meld into a single voice, Owyang preached.


Altimeter Group's vision of converged media would create a communication medium that would break down the siloed walls of today's businesses.

The feedback loop like converged media would allow companies unprecedented access to customers, but in today's marketing world, too many companies rely on blasting away with many familiar messages, Owyang said. People are tuning out that noise as they learn to use the Web and social media to find the things they need.

Learning Opportunities

Until that changes, companies won't be able to find the dynamic customers who thrive in this environment. The base problem is that companies are simply not built to adapt quickly to the upheaval we are seeing now, and the ones who reorganize to do so will be the leaders, Owyang said.

Don't Sell Ships, Sell the Destination

Don't sell ships, sell the destination is just a way for us to think about what is really important. It's not about technology or social media, but about business goals, Amber Naslund, co founder and president of SideraWorks said at the Marketo Summit.

"The web and social have completely changed the business world," she said, and we have new and different expectations around social media."

The things we want to be able to do with social media, like listen to customers and engage them in more meaningful ways, are not things that are necessarily built into the DNA of many companies. Being able to achieve this level of, shall we say openness, oftentimes requires fundamental reorganization of companies.

"We need a proper organizational design that coordinates and aligns social efforts," Naslund said.

Everyone needs to own social media, she said, and as disruption takes hold in more and more companies, those social businesses will be in the best position. To that end, marketers need to start speaking the language of business, and not just social business. Marketers should see their work not through campaigns or click through rates but rather through revenues and cost reductions.

Marketers often touch many other parts of a business, so lots of outdated business processes are visible to them. This puts them in a unique position to help transform companies that tend to cling to old functions that aren't needed anymore, Naslund said.

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