Archive › August, 2011

Check your company’s social agility score

How social are our organisations, really? For anyone tasked with navigating their company through the social quagmire, it’s a question often asked and rarely answered meaningfully.

We’re hoping to change that with our new social agility benchmark.

By going through the 5-10 minute online assessment (which is completely confidential), you receive an instant response that ranks and categorises you and your organisation against others.

At the end of the assessment, you’ll receive a report that gives you:

  • Your Social Agility Score – an indication of your organisation’s social agility on a 0-10 scale
  • Your Social Agility Profile – an assessment of your organisation’s progress towards social agility
  • A benchmark for how your organisation compares to others
  • Recommendations for how you can improve

Early indications are already showing that the most important factors for organisations trying to achieve competitive advantage from social media include:

  • the ability to change
  • understanding its impact on marketing
  • awareness of what is being said and
  • ensuring that activity reflects the personality of the brand

We’ll be producing a full report in due course, which you can opt in to receive as part of the assessment.

To take the assessment on behalf of your organisation, click the button below.


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Sociagility teams with CloudNine

Very pleased to announce a partnership that will ensure our clients achieve competitive advantage from social media. Steve Ward’s CloudNine is one of the best recruiters of social media talent in the UK and, given our focus on helping clients build their own in-house social media capabilities, it makes complete sense for us to work with them.

As part of the final step in our DISC capability-building process, Steve and his team will ensure that our clients find the best personnel to deliver the social strategies that we help them develop.

You can read the full announcement here and can follow CloudNine on Twitter: @CloudNineRec.

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Outsourcing community management simply won’t do

The latest trend-watching post by acknowledged social media expert Jeremiah Owyang of Altimeter on community management raises some interesting points and suggests a trend toward further outsourcing of various functions with a neat matrix showing four levels of community management service:

But the comments on Jeremiah’s post are equally interesting and I find myself mainly in agreement with Miles Maker who says:

I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around outsourcing community engagement….who builds a community and then distances themselves from it in terms of hands-on immersion?  What’s the point?  This sounds like the marketing mind of a brand trying to be social vs. just being social.

This is at the heart of the challenge for many if not most brands. Having been a CMO myself and having advised many companies, I know they know they have to do something but what exactly? So the standard rabbit run is to pass the problem to an agency – PR, advertising, web. But while that may work for traditional one way communications, direct or third party, it won’t do for social where genuine engagement is key.

We may be just country hicks here in the UK but if outsourcing community management to third parties really is a trend, then it seems to me to be a retrograde one. Like inviting people to your party and letting a party organiser host it for you in your absence or worse, letting them pretend to be you. The need I see is for more organisations to get their own heads around ‘social’ and take engagement responsibility in-house, not the other way around.

To quote Miles again:

Let’s focus on authenticity.  Let’s do the work ourselves.  Let’s speak from our own mouths and from those closest to the brand.

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5 Essential Social Business Infographics

Update: I’ve been challenged by Jon Husband in the comments on the number of infographics required for a “round up”, so have changed the title and am adding more as I come across them.

Like it or loathe it, the term ‘social business’ looks like it’s here to stay – if judged by the increasing number of infographics appearing online. So I thought it would be worth rounding them up and picking out the most salient points. Here goes…

#1: Social Business Imperative – Michael Brito (May 2011)

Not your traditional infographic, this one, but more an aggregation of philosophies and key data points in the form of “A playbook for social media in your organisation”, mainly to promote Michael’s book Smart Business, Social Business. You get some good stuff from Altimeter Group at the end in return for a sore scrolling finger, but can’t help think that this would have been better as a PDF. Infographics shouldn’t have this much text IMHO, but slap the word ‘infographic’ on anything these days and it’ll get noticed.

#2: Let’s Get Down to Social Business – Get Satisfaction (August 2011)

OK, this is more like it. Bringing together data from a number of sources, Get Satisfaction created a nice infographic looking at the demand for social business, key industries already engaged and specific internal and external strategies being focused on in 2011.

#3: Execs Make Jump to Social – Jive Software (June 2011)

This is possibly my favourite, as it employs the infographic format at what it’s good at – visualising complex data in an easy-digestable way. The basis for Jive’s infographic is data from a survey of executives, millenials and knowledge workers that they had commissioned, and it tells a believable story: as personal use of social media grows, the more professional it becomes. I particularly like the final conclusion that even though personal and professional usage increase and almost three quarters of executives think that social will fundamentally change how business gets done, only 17% of them think that their company is “ahead of the curve” in terms of adoption.

#4: Social Media and your Business Communication Strategy – Socialcast (July 2011)

I like the focus on the different kinds of outcomes that companies can achieve from social media in this infographic from Socialcast. The most informative data from The Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachussetts Darmouth comparing the success of different platforms to the importance of social media is looking a bit dated now though. Any chance of a refresh, Socialcast?

#5: Calculating the Return on Investment of Enterprise Social Software – Socialcast (again) (November 2010)

I wonder if it was Socialcast’s infographics that attracted VMware to acquire them? Anyway, here’s another nice one on the prequel to social business, ‘enterprise 2.0’ (what the rest of us called it before the Dachis Group came along!). I really like this one because it answers three simple (and pretty important) questions: what happens to ROI when you do x; why is it important; and how do you measure it. Nice work.


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Universities’ Challenge

University education has expanded enormously in the last three decades. But economic circumstances and government action have now made recruitment of the best students an increasingly competitive issue for the whole sector. This is an area where social media can have a unique impact.

The changes in government support mean severe reductions in core income and the new fee-based landscape will be driven in good part by value-for-money considerations on the part of students e.g. students from further away; and by the restrictions on visas for overseas students. Nowhere is this competition more evident than in the race to attract high-achieving AAB students, who are to be excluded from number controls.

While new for the higher education sector, many of these issues will be familiar to brands seeking to differentiate themselves in a competitive marketplace undergoing a significant degree of ‘deregulation’. However, the funding changes are only one significant change; another is the degree to which social media have changed the landscape for all brand communications.

Much of the decade-old Cluetrain Manifesto has now become a reality. Brands now have less control than ever before over what is communicated about them via social media – and universities are subject to the same forces, especially with regard to recruitment. Prospective students’ perceptions of a university – and ultimately the decision to accept a place – are influenced not only by marketing and financial initiatives, but also by opinions expressed by peers on social media networks.

Of course universities can themselves participate far more easily and at lower cost than ever before. But to do so effectively, there needs to be a fundamental shift away from traditional, one-way communications to a genuinely two-way relationship that seeks real engagement rather than control.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that some British universities have embraced this change and are the equal of the best in the world. Others, it seems, ‘could do better if tried harder…’. Sociagility will be inviting UK universities to participate in an online survey soon to establish which ones warrant a social First and which are headed for a Fail.

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From Social Business to Social Agility

Having dismissed the term ‘social business’ as inappropriate a few months ago, it’s with a rather sheepish grin that I write this post introducing the concept on which our new consultancy has hung its hat, boots and all.

In case you hadn’t already worked out the neologism, Sociagility is about helping organisations achieve social agility. Aside from the fact that I like the term ‘agility’ better than ‘business’ (the latter being, according to the inimitable Euan Semple, often mistaken for just busyness), why ‘social agility’?

First, if social media describes the new world of communication and business agility describes how well organisations respond to changes in the marketplace, then social agility must surely describe how well organisations respond to the new world of communication.

Agility also implies dynamism, dexterity, speed, etc. In sport, agility requires a combination of balance to maintain equilibrium, speed to move quickly, strength to overcome resistance and co-ordination to control movement in co-operation with other functions. There’s something about these attributes that would seem to apply just as well to an organisation trying to achieve competitive advantage from its use of social media as to an Olympic athlete.

In business, agility is often described as the capability to rapidly and efficiently adapt to changes in the business environment. I would argue that there’s no greater change taking place right now than social media (or whatever derivative thereof) and how well an organisation reacts to the new ways (and for many executives outside the social bubble, they are still new) that customers, staff and others are interacting and communication with and around it.

The key factor for me, however, when it comes to being socially agile, is capability. Having the right people, with the right skills, implementing the right strategy, against the right objectives, tracked using the right metrics, using the right systems, processes and rules is absolutely fundamental to any organisation that wants to achieve competitive advantage from social over the long term. Capability – not tools or software – is what differentiates one organisation’s social agility from another, and ultimately what determines competitive advantage.

And that’s what Sociagility is about. Social capability. Building your own in order to become socially agile, not abdicating responsibility for it to PR, advertising, digital or even social media agencies.

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The wisdom of crowds?

Democracy, aka ‘mob rule’, means different things depending on who and where you are. And the new tools of street democracy, Twitter, Facebook, smartphones, can turn out to be heroes or villains of civil society accordingly.

In the Middle East, Twitter has been a champion of democracy to most of us in the West. And governing elites from there to China have faced calumny for trying to limit social media access. Yet, as the recent riots in London and other British cities have shown, social media can contribute to a very different kind of mob rule – one resoundingly criticised by the same folk who praised the Twitter and Blackberry users of Tahrir Square.

Did the latest British riots escalate as a result of social media and smartphones? Probably yes. But is the right response to turn off Blackberry messaging? Absolutely not.

Already the forces and voices of the ‘establishment’ – national politicians, local authorities, police and community leaders – are using mainstream media (once again the good guys, phew) to reassert the value of order and authority. And no doubt, when the polemic has died down, some wider wisdom may emerge – about urban conditions, parenting, policing and community involvement etc.

There are lessons in this for established brands too. First, a world without ‘social media’ is not optional and, as a result, ‘mob rule 2.0’ will apply. Second, the short-term ‘wisdom of crowds’ is not always very wise – it may be short-sighted, self destructive and dangerous to all. Third, social media is a reflection of society so there IS learning, and perhaps long term wisdom, to be had.

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