Tuesday 21 October 2014

Change Now, Or Become Irrelevant

This post was originally posted on Micheal Brito’s blog Britopian.

One thing I learned in the Marine Corps was the ability to be flexible and agile because circumstances always change.  The “Improvise, Adapt and Overcome” quote which was made famous by Gunny Highway in Heartbreak Ridge (great movie btw) is often used to solidify this point to new recruits in boot camp. It can mean the difference between life and death in battle.

Social Business Requirements

The same is true for business or what we call social business today. But it goes beyond just the organization.  It’s just as important for their agencies, vendors, consultants and partners to change and adapt as well.

Jay Baer, a friend, intelligent guy and leader in this space brought up a subject a few months ago. He asked … “Should Your PR Firm Be Your Social Business Advisor?” Lots and lots of folks chimed in with some saying yes, some saying no and others unsure. I, then, wrote somewhat of a rebuttal which was pretty much ignored by everyone.

Enough of the history and pity party, I’ll get straight to the point.

If you or your agency aren’t learning the ins and outs of social business, you will become irrelevant in this space. Here’s why. The fundamentals of social business planning enables an organization to scale and have more meaningful conversations with customers, partners and more importantly each other. It is the infrastructure that enables a brand to listen to the collective intellect of the community, solve customers problems, and change the way it communicates and does business. Stay still if you want but I guarantee your clients will expect some level of proficiency in this space. Most won’t call it social business but they will look to your agency for help in several areas.

Shiny Anarchy

I’ll take it one step further and say that you are only adding to the problem by not learning social business and counseling your clients to make smart decisions. One reason why there is so much chaos in organizations today is because of that “bright and shiny” object called social media, and the agency promise to grow friends, fans and followers. Years ago and even today, brands and agencies jumped right in without proper planning – internal alignment, no vision, inconsistent business objectives, lack of a content strategy, measurement consistency, moderation governance, training and the list goes on. Now they are all scratching their heads in wonder because anarchy reigns.

Change is inevitable. When a client asks for something that is not part of your core proficiency, you can only say no a few times. If multiple clients ask you multiple times, you better change your business and adapt. And if you don’t have the expertise in house, you go out and hire the right people to fill the gaps. It doesn’t mean that you have to build an entire social business practice but its important to have keen understanding of what it is and why it’s important.

Staying Relevant

Is this not the same reason why many traditional PR and creative agencies now have social media capabilities? It’s an effort to stay relevant and provide value to their clients.

Let’s stop questioning each other about “who” should be in charge of social business consulting. Let’s stop taking “subtle” jabs at each other and instead learn. It will benefit everyone in the long run.

Image credit: mafleen

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