Social Business Transformation

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Whilst Digital Transformation is having such a grand airing this year, I thought it would be good to focus on how Social Media can help underpin transformation and look at who has been doing this well.

Most of the attention, awards and column inches get dedicated to the use of social media marketing. When someone talks about social media, people think of the channels they personally use to communicate, the campaigns that have titillated them or the brands they engage with.

If you had to come up with a list of business uses of social media you find hundreds, but let’s consider social media into 6 main business uses, for ease:

  • Internal Comms
  • HR
  • PR
  • Direct Sales
  • Customer Service
  • Business Intelligence

Internal Communications
Internal communications is often considered the poor sister of one of the uses of social media in a corporate context, but there are many great examples and good evidence where internal communications focus on social media and turning your employees into social media advocates pays huge dividends.

IBM recognised over a decade ago the value of  employee-led posts vs. corporately produced material and heavily invested into turning staff into socially-proficient, personal social media users.

Rang De is a crowdsourcing initiative and is currently valued at US $8million. It takes a pro-active approach to digital engagement and social media advocacy from its personal posts by employees and its investors that have contributed directly to its growth and fiscal evaluation.

The smart use of social media outreach to warm up potential new employees goes way beyond the sometimes inappropriate job offers on LinkedIn. Web attraction platforms (previously known as Career Pages) are hosting YouTube videos of staff points of view, pan shots showing people what it’s like to work there, and job roles described in videos by HR teams.

Organisations wising up to the fact that socially attracted candidates have a lower attrition rate and better corporate engagement are developing not just social media engagement strategies but, in many cases, dedicated Facebook Talent Pools to serve the 99% of people who didn’t get the job. Ernst & Young, Apple and the CIA all have dedicated Facebook recruitment strategies to warm prospective employees up to their brand and to encourage them to apply for other jobs within the business.

Smart talent managers are mapping the social media capability of current employees and devising training interventions that match the business aspirations giving training a direct ROI.

We’re all now seasoned critics of social media marketing, having developed ad blindness and tough, cynical skins, but evidence shows that there’s a strong correlation between social media engendering trust and trusted products having more sales.

Although I’m sure we’re all familiar with the Queensland Tourism ‘The Best Job In The World’ campaign the reason that it was our first and one of the best social media ROI case studies, was its huge measurable success.  Aside from the 34,684 one-minute video job applications from 197 countries and 53 million page views, the estimated media coverage was valued at US$165 million for a $1.2 million spend.

Whilst the Old Spice ‘The man your man can smell like’ campaign titillated nations, there is sound logic behind the Campaign Execution.  One year post-launch of sales were up 107% from the social responses campaign work alone.

More recently we can see the results of the Twitter hashtag campaign #NoMakeUpSelfie for Cancer Research UK: in just six days #NoMakeUpSelfie  #MakeUpSelfie and another pictures raised £8million and funded 10 new clinical trials as a result.

Direct sales
Five or more years ago using social media for direct sales was frowned upon. ‘Get your dirty selling tactics out of my community!’ community managers cried.  Not  only with the smart use of Facebook advertising and direct sales on Twitter, but with the growth of Pinterest and YouTube product demos many industries are benefiting from direct sales.

In 2013 in the UK, Pinterest overtook Twitter and Facebook for revenue per visit. Antiques and collectables, books and magazines, IT and computing are all using Pinterest as a great secondary platform for sales when combined with Facebook. Etailers, Home and Garden and Gifts suppliers are benefiting from sales on Twitter as industry sectors globally.

Customer service
BT is one of the UK’s great success stories for the smart use of customer service on Twitter.

In a dedicated focused channel shift, BT enabled and motivated employees to better use social media to shift calls from the call centre onto Twitter. They recognised that customer experience can be improved and leads to greater advocacy, that good customer engagement gives a lower propensity to churn and greater customer lifetime value.
BT estimates approximately 600,000 contacts per year are rooted via social media instead of more expensive voice methods, BT has lowered the cost if its customer service operations £2million a year.

Equally a great global success story is the Dutch airline KLM. They have 150 social media customer service agents generating an estimated $25 million in annual revenue.

Business intelligence
The single most useful business use of social media is in business intelligence. If you can only do one thing listen. Listen to what your customers are saying about your brand, product or service; listen to what past and present employees are saying about you and what message that gives out.

Smart business intelligence should underpin all your activity, for example:

  • Are you actively or reactively listening for positive or negative mentions that may affect your company’s reputation?


  • Are you managing an offline crisis and using social media data well to inform you?


  • Are you using social media and good community management to inform how you design or redesign your company policies?


  • Are you listening for customer feedback to affect new product design or new developments?


  • Are you smartly taking advantage of what customers are saying about your competition, – perhaps discovering your competitive advantage through the pleasure and pain points of customer experience of competitors’ brands?


No matter where you sit within your company structure you have the opportunity to affect your business with some of these uses, thanks for reading.

This article was first featured on the Crimson Hexagon Blog 4th June 2015.

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