Interview with Brian Solis Author of The End of Business As Usual

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Interview with Brian Solis Author of The End of Business As Usual

  1. 1. Interview For Diva Marketing The End of Business As Usual by Brian Solias Brian Solis has earned a reputation as guy who digs deep and comes up with insights that result in head nodding. However, his analysis quite often takes our own thinking into directions that might not have been as obvious to us. For me his new book, The End of Business As Usual, did both. Inodded and at the end of the read I thought just a little differently. Brian graciously agreed to share histhoughts about social media and the connected consumer. Please enjoy!Diva Marketing/Toby: The End of Business As Usual explores how the digital world, including socialmedia, is impacting not only the way customers connect with companies but how companies interactwith their customers and stakeholders. At this point in the evolution of social media what does socialmedia mean to you?Brian Solis: Social media means a lot of different things to me and that’s why I’m inspired to invest asmuch possible to understand the impact on business, culture, consumers, and also individuals. At aminimum, social media is an opportunity for introspection. We have the ability to easily connect withone another.We’re forming incredibly vibrant and extensive networks around relationships and interests. We’relearning how to live life in a very public, and searchable, space. Just as individuals, businesses,organizations, governments, you name it, are equally given the gift of connections and the ability tointeract with people directly.Social media opens the door to empathy and influence. But as a result, the tenets required to thrive insocial media require a different approach, a thoughtful strategy, and intentions designed to delivervalue to all participants in engagement.I study social media programs by the thousands and I have to tell you, there are amazing examples andbest practices out there. But, there are more examples of antisocial media then there are of socialmedia…meaning, content, campaigns, contests, messages, are stuffed into new networks under theguise of social, when in fact, there’s very little social in the social media initiative.Social media is in a state of rapid maturation and that’s why I wrote The End of Business as Usual(www.endofbusiness.com). There are important lessons right now that are more important than socialmedia. Understanding the bigger picture will only benefit how businesses use social media and how they Bloomberg Marketing/Diva Marketing | |eMail: toby@bloombergmarketing..com |Twitter: @tobydiva Diva Marketing www.divamarketingblog.com Forbes Pick of Best Women Blogs on Marketing & Social Media st All The Single Girlfriends www.allthesinglegirlfriends.com – 1 communty for single women 40+
  2. 2. grow as a company and a team of human beings united to accomplish something that’s bigger than anyone individual.Consumerism is changing. There is no longer one audience bound by demographics. In the book, Iintroduce the reader to the connected consumer. How they find information, how they make decisions,and how the influence and are influenced, is not at all like the previous generations of customersbusinesses are used to marketing and selling to, servicing, or tracking. The book title says it all. This isabout a fundamental change in behavior, which isn’t regressing, it’s actually spreading. Taking the sameold strategies, programs, philosophies, and us vs. them culture into this next generation of connectedconsumerism is the surest way to digital Darwinism, the evolution of consumer behavior when societyand technology evolve faster than our ability to adapt.No longer is it just about survival of the fittest, it’s now also about survival of the fitting.Diva Marketing/Toby: Recently Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) made a faux pas on Twitter. He then said inhis blog that he felt Twitter had gone from a “communication platform” to a “mass publishing platform.“ He’s now turned the management of his stream over to his agency as a “secondary editorial measure.”Two questions Brian: One - do you feel that social networks in general have gone from a way to talk todirectly to customers or have they become just another mass market communication channel?And two - what would you have advised Ashton to do?Brian Solis: This is difficult to answer. Ashton is a friend of mine and honestly, it’s not my place tocomment on his experience. If he asked, my advice to him would be between us. However, I don’t wantto let you or your readers down, so allow me to answer it another way. With social media comes great responsibility.Regardless of the size of our networks, each of carries a duty to engage with purpose, transparency,authenticity, and above all, respect. We are defined by what we say, share, and at times, what we don’tsay.Essentially, we create a digital representation of who we are and what we value. In the end, whatpeople think, how people value our connections, and how people interact with us is reflective of ourinvestment. Or said another way, we reap what we sow and cultivate. Bloomberg Marketing/Diva Marketing | |eMail: toby@bloombergmarketing..com |Twitter: @tobydiva Diva Marketing www.divamarketingblog.com Forbes Pick of Best Women Blogs on Marketing & Social Media st All The Single Girlfriends www.allthesinglegirlfriends.com – 1 communty for single women 40+
  3. 3. The challenge is of course, that this is all so new, that we’re learning as we go. We’re, as everydaypeople and celebrities, not conditioned for living in public without filters or handlers.To answer your first question, people are becoming full-fledged media networks and that’s why thismoment is so special and alarming at the same time.As media networks, and as novices really in the world of catering to extensive networks, it’s tempting toapproach social media with a traditional mentality. Producing and publishing content in social networksisn’t necessary social media…in fact, bringing a one-to-many broadcast methodology to social is quiteanti-social to say the least.We are responsible for what we create and share. But we are also challenged to do more than justcreate content. Anyone can do that now, so what makes you different? It’s also another thing to createconsumable content. Again, anyone versed in traditional media can do that. Now, we’re presented with a tremendous opportunity to produce consumable, shareable and actionable media. Those that master this will be rewarded with time, attention, and loyalty for the long term…and that’s priceless.Diva Marketing/Toby: You discuss the importance of creating and maintaining authentic exchangeswhich in turn, lead to building relationship with the connect customer. For every person who happensonto those interactions (random or deliberate) these exchanges become part of a shared brandexperience. People can see who the brand chooses to engage within the social web.How do you ensure that connected customers who have reached out to the brand but are not includedin, call them direct discussions with the brand, still feel special and not left out? I wonder .. are wecreating an illusion of special?Brian Solis: Interesting…I like the idea of the “illusion of special.” The same is true for social media andindividuals. From Klout scores to Twitter followers, many people are struggling with the idea ofimportance. Whether or not connected consumers expect a company response or if an interactionactually occurred, people will freely share their experiences with companies.It is those published experiences in social networks that become not only searchable, but also impactthe considerations and decisions of those who are either connected or those who find it in social searchor simply by asking. Many businesses see social media as a necessary evil and/or an opportunity toengage with customers who have negative experiences. Bloomberg Marketing/Diva Marketing | |eMail: toby@bloombergmarketing..com |Twitter: @tobydiva Diva Marketing www.divamarketingblog.com Forbes Pick of Best Women Blogs on Marketing & Social Media st All The Single Girlfriends www.allthesinglegirlfriends.com – 1 communty for single women 40+
  4. 4. Doing so puts an organization at risk. By responding to negative experiences, companies get stuck in amove and react form of engagement. The real opportunity is to learn from customer behavior to designbetter products, build an infrastructure that supports improved experiences, and continue to do so overtime. It’s part leadership and part support. However, it’s never ending. What is the experience yourcustomers have today? How do they find you? What shows up as someone is considering you now insocial networks, not just Google, and what does their click path look like?Once you understand the “day in the life” and what it is that people are expressing, you can begin todesign a meaningful experience.Diva Marketing/Toby: In Chapter 13 you said that listening is “Not an administrative position left to arecent college graduate because they get social media. This is a senior function that reports tomanagement that processes authority to make decisions …” (p160) I’m curious to understand who youbelieve should participate in social conversations as the voice of the brand. Is it a job for an intern orjunior staff member or is this also a senior or mid management responsibility and why?Brian Solis: This section refers to importance of the role of intelligence. It extends the thoughts sharedin the last question. Often we get caught up in monitoring for mentions, sentiment, share of voice, andwe miss the insights that can guide our engagement strategies and internal processes.But to specifically answer your question, it’s not the role of just any one person to become the voice ofthe company. The needs of customers is far greater than any one person can or should manage. At anyone moment, your consumer can be an advocate expecting rewards, a customer needing help, aprospect requiring information or guidance, a partner wishing to express ideas to improve experiences,a potential employee needing HR attention, etc. The point is that every division affected by the activitywithin social media or any new media for that matter, must include an extension to 1) listen, 2) learn, 3)engage, and 4) adapt.This is a major transformation and not something to be taken lightly. It starts with a mission, purpose,and vision. It requires a thoughtful plan. It requires training, governance, and compliance.Diva Marketing/Toby: Throughout the book and in particular, Chapter 13 Brands Are No LongerCreated, They’re Co-Created, you discuss the responsibilities of the organization to embrace theconnected customer in developing the brand. With the connected customer now involved withdeveloping the brand, the CC must also share in the responsibility. What is the accountability of theconnected customer to the brand?Brian Solis: At the end of the day, connected customers will share their experience with or without you.That’s the power and freedom of new media and self expression is the ante to buy into any socialnetwork. The question is, without your involvement, without design, with trying to shape experiencesproactively, what will your customers say and what will they do? Bloomberg Marketing/Diva Marketing | |eMail: toby@bloombergmarketing..com |Twitter: @tobydiva Diva Marketing www.divamarketingblog.com Forbes Pick of Best Women Blogs on Marketing & Social Media st All The Single Girlfriends www.allthesinglegirlfriends.com – 1 communty for single women 40+
  5. 5. To truly create and steer experiences, businesses must design programs that seek their involvement. Forexample, Dell’s IdeaStorm and MyStarbucksIdea are proactive forms of communities dedicated torallying customer feedback, recognizing and rewarding their input, and designing new experiences as aresult. It puts customer ideas to work and they can see the progress of their input. Programs like thisconvert a connected customer into a stakeholder. Dell has gone even further by opening up an inward-facing community where employees can contribute and engage around their ideas as well.Communities such as this are designed to channel self-expression into forms of collaboration. AmericanExpress recently launched its Link.Like.Love program that ties together the company’s rewards programwith social activity. Beyond contests, general conversations, reactive customer support, smartbusinesses are thinking ahead to deliver value while steering and shaping desirable “shared”experiences.Diva Marketing/Toby: Your book is filled with wonderful quotes. This is one of my favorites, “… brandsmust figuratively wear their hearts on their sleeves to best connectwith customers.” (p 170) Would you speak a little of what thatmeans to you?Brian Solis: There’s an old saying, “don’t take it personally, this isjust business.” Now, the opposite of that statement is true. One ofthe best-kept secret ingredients of any engaged business before,during, and after social media is empathy. The connected consumeris incredibly sophisticated. Add to that, the nature of socialnetworks.What Facebook, Twitter, Google+, et al. share is that they’re richwith emotion. People share what they like, love, dislike, or evenhate. People engage with one another based on these emotionsbecause it’s personal. Businesses are entering these very emotional landscapes and they are treatingthem in many regards much as they do with other media channels. Just because they’re present andparticipating doesn’t mean that they’re human or that what it is they’re expressing is empathetic innature.During the listening process, we can capture the challenges, joys, struggles, and achievements of peoplewho are customers or those related to our markets. Rather than just track keywords and activity, we canfeel what it is that would matter to customers and build off of those findings. For example, there arecompanies, like Freshbooks, that makes every employee in the company staff the customer service linesto better understand customers. The objective of course is to instill empathy. Because once you do,business becomes personal.Diva Marketing/Toby: Brian, as we say, the Diva Marketing viral stage is yours. Wrap it up any wayyou’d like. Bloomberg Marketing/Diva Marketing | |eMail: toby@bloombergmarketing..com |Twitter: @tobydiva Diva Marketing www.divamarketingblog.com Forbes Pick of Best Women Blogs on Marketing & Social Media st All The Single Girlfriends www.allthesinglegirlfriends.com – 1 communty for single women 40+
  6. 6. Brian Solis: This is an important time. We are presented with an opportunity and some of us need tomake touch choices right now. I believe that we are standing at a crossroads. In one direction, we cancontinue our quest to bring social media within business, to help companies “get it” and work with themto socialize marketing, communications, and service. In the other direction, we can use the lessons welearned from social media to bring about change within the company.As change agents, this path will bring together once disparate teams and functions to collaborate increating new culture of customer and employee centricity and overall market relevance. Each path isimportant. It’s up to us to make a decision and push forward to help whomever we work with benefitfrom our vision and perseverance.Connect with Brian on Twitter https://twitter.com/briansolis The End of Business As Usualhttp://www.endofbusiness.com/ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Toby Bloomberg consults speaks and trains on how to combine social media with branding, marketingand other customer touch points to build relationships though the people who are the stories of thebrand. Her blog Diva Marketing is a Forbes Pick of Best Women Blogs on Marketing & Social Media.She is the author of Social Media Marketing GPS, the first book based on Twitter interviews. Connectwith her on @tobydiva .Diva Marketing: www.divamarketingblog.comTwitter: http://twitter.com/tobydivaSocial Media Marketing GPA: http://www.box.net/shared/0n18eeycl4 Bloomberg Marketing/Diva Marketing | |eMail: toby@bloombergmarketing..com |Twitter: @tobydiva Diva Marketing www.divamarketingblog.com Forbes Pick of Best Women Blogs on Marketing & Social Media st All The Single Girlfriends www.allthesinglegirlfriends.com – 1 communty for single women 40+

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