Social SMB – Be more Open in 2011

The adoption of Social Business models has to start from the inside-out.

As we get to the last days of 2010, we need to recognize that this was the year we reached peak of  inflated expectations for Social-Everything.

Small and mid-sized companies were told they needed to use Social Media and many went on to set their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts and hire a “Social Media Manager” invariably with not great results.

What should we expect in the next years? Disillusionment. Expect people to say: “Social was a fad, it has no use in Business”.

Gartner has modeled that market dynamics in its “Hype Cycle”.

But Social is for Real

The classical business models have been the most efficient because they relied on analysis and segmentation, reducing dependencies and the need for collaboration, focusing on functional and personal accountability to solve complex problems.

The adoption of Social Technologies will change the way we do business. How? By reducing the friction (and cost) of collaboration, it will enable the emergence of new business models that will better leverage the synergy in people’s interactions (both within and outside the organization).

Business changes associated with Social Technologies are slow and gradual because they mirror behavioral changes that are generational to a large degree (see The Click Company– Adapt or Die). But that generational change has already happened and we are just seeing its unraveling as a new generation become active consumers and take decision-making positions in business.

So, What Should SMB do?

How should your company face the changes resulting from the adoption of social technologies in business? Here are some ideas:

  • Focus on the inside first. An organization cannot be social in its interaction with customers and the market if it is not open on the inside. Break the knowledge silos, promote transparency, empower employees. Turn your company into an open, collaborative organization.
  • Fundamentals of marketing and sales don’t go away because of a new media. The transition from traditional media (print, e-mail, broadcast, etc) to social media will happen over the next several years. What you read about Social Media is true (and you will need a Facebook Page), but we need to be in it for the long run.
  • Social CRM does not invalidate traditional Customer Relationship Management strategies, but it is a profound transformation. CRM processes and tools will evolve at first, and they must transform. Some established tool vendors will adapt, others will miss the transition and die. New emerging vendors will bring innovation and carve a space.
  • The time to embrace change, invest in research, and find the right partners for the journey ahead is now. The time to execute your strategies extends for the next several years. Don’t slow down as inflated expectations subside, because they will.

… And Happy New Year

2011 is an important year for us at Coffee Bean. We started switching several of the early adopters of our solution into production during this last couple of months. It is time for us to deliver value to our customers.

I think this blog will mirror that transition by narrowing its focus on the SMB and moving from thought to action.

Thank you for supporting us in 2010. I’ve learned a lot by interacting with you here and in our conversations in Social Media. I believe we live very interesting times.

Be 2011 a great year for all of us.

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