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

6 minute read
Blake Landau avatar

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.

Learning Opportunities

From product development, customer support and marketing to employee career development, these empowered workers care less about the financial impacts of failed innovation experiments (while of course learning from them) and more about developing high-performing cultures that drive customer value over time.

BL: You talk about the ROI of social in your book. The ROI of social is something most executives grapple with. Can you explain Darwin’s Funnel in simplistic terms?

socialized book.jpg

MF: Think of Darwin’s Social Funnel as a series of small improvements that make the organization more effective. I liken this to how top-ranked golfers play golf.

At every hole (funnel stage) I study the landscape, choose the right club, ask for advice from the rest of the foursome, and finally swing away. Based on the results of the shot, I either continue and finish the hole (if successful) or examine what went wrong by asking the rest of the players what they saw.

Viewing the segments of a traditional marketing funnel like a hole on a golf course emphasizes the importance of review and revision as conditions change, and shows the escalating benefits of many small improvements in continuous iterations. This adaptive, real-time feedback approach to the funnel is what I call Darwin’s Social Funnel.

Likewise, over time, the company using Darwin’s Social Funnel develops a better understanding of the golf courses, the clubs needed at each hole, the people needed to make them successful and how to handle their fans. Using this new approach, a company can be placed in any landscape anywhere in the world and can become successful faster because it has learned to be very efficient in adapting to its surroundings.

BL: You are the Conference Director of BusinessNext. Can you make the case here for why executives should attend this event?

MF: BusinessNext is the pre-eminent social business event for anyone who wants to learn how to evolve their organizations into high-performance social businesses. My team and I have hand-picked social business luminaries, influencers and IT vendors who have experienced firsthand the strategies, cutting-edge social media and mobile technologies, compelling content marketing and engaged communities that are accelerating the rise and fall of businesses.

Editor's Note: Mark is offering CMSWire readers a 10% discount off a full access pass to BusinessNext Social. When registering, use discount code: CMSWIRE10.


About the author

Blake Landau

Blake Landau is a blogger, speaker and consultant at Artemis. She’s worked with brands such as Verizon Wireless on social media, branding, public relations and marketing.

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