Social business are we asking the right questions?

Social business is driving many changes in behaviour both within the organization and in the market place generally, but the really big shift is the area of consumer to consumer interaction. Consumers talking to each other, via social media, represent an accelerating wave of change, and will require a major shift in the way organisations operate and how their business models are shaped.
So the obvious question is how can organisations manage this “consumer to consumer” space? Well the answer is very simple – they can’t. Sad as it may seem, the classic rules of management do not apply. “C to C” activity is occurring in so many ways, and is well outside the traditional governance and processes of organisations.
In this “C to C” space, the notion of controlling and managing is rapidly giving way to a flavour of capitalising and leveraging. The conversation has shifted dramatically. Organisations who are asking “how do we manage this?” are asking the wrong question. The more appropriate questions revolve around how can organisations leverage this “C to C” activity, and how do business models need to change accordingly.
Let’s look at some brief examples.
Westpac is one of Australia’s largest banks. Ean van Vuuren from Westpac was quoted recently in the Australian Financial Review as saying “It’s about us being there and creating a credible presence within social media that we can grow and leverage over time”. This is about engagement in social business, and being an active participant in the social media conversation. This sentiment underscores the need for organisations to drive a longer term strategy and commitment to this area of activity.
Telstra is Australia’s largest telco and is also a case in point. The head of online communications Kristen Boschma was also quoted recently in the Australian Financial Review. She highlighted that anecdotal evidence showed intervention on Twitter had stopped plenty of angry customers from leaving. She also said “We have a goal of responding to customers within one hour and we hit the target 84% of the time”. This is about taking positive action and being agile in response to customer feelings and specific issues.
There are three questions for organisations to answer regarding the “C to C” space:
1. Engagement: How will your organisation engage pro-actively in the social media space to help shape and drive the customer conversations?
2. Action: How will your organisation take specific actions as seen by customers to address their issues and concerns?
3. Agility: How will your organisation be highly agile in the “C to C” space, and how will your business model need to change?
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