Every once in a while, something shows up on the Internet that creates a game-changing shift in the way we view the world. In the context of online business, this happened to me in the fall of 2008 when I first saw the Conversation Prism developed by Brian Solis.
As a social media evangelist, the Conversation Prism became a disruptive tool that inspired both fear and opportunity. I leveraged it as the star slide of every presentation I gave over the next year – and also came to recognize a new thought leader in Solis, one who was articulating the future as well as the client experiences unfolding right in front of me.
I caught up with Solis this week to talk about his new book, “The End of Business as Usual: Rewire The Way You Work to Succeed in the Customer Revolution.” The following are highlights from our conversation.
Jason Cormier: Was there any feedback or key learning’s you established from your last book, “Engage”, as a foundation for this new book?
Brian Solis: Yes. "Engage" was aimed at the social strategist, marketing and communications team, and progressive management teams that were ready to… just as the title instructs, engage.
Between the release of version 1 in March of 2010 and version 2 in March of 2011, I learned quite a bit about how organizations were or were not changing to adapt to market opportunities.
”The End of Business as Usual” is written for change agents and those fighting to compete for attention and relevance. This time, I’m also pursuing the executives who are responsible for leading their business to what’s next. And, this book makes the case for leadership teams to look beyond social media to see the impact of the connected customer on their business.
This isn’t a book about case studies on how to use Facebook or Twitter. Executives don’t use these networks so making the argument, while necessary, really was the role of “Engage”. This time, I make the case from a business level to demonstrate how running a rigid business, business as usual, will open the doors to digital Darwinism where companies that fail to adapt will become victims of natural selection.
JC: I saw Peter Guber called your new book “the map” to win the hearts and minds of customers with “new media experiences.” Do you dig into any of the practical and tactical here or would you say it’s more of a map as opposed to a set of directions?
BS: Interesting question. The book is broken into two halves. First, I make the case for the future of decision-making and how connected consumers are influencing and influenced by interest graphs (those individuals connected by keywords, shared relationships, and expressed interests).
The second half of the book focuses on how to build an adaptive organization that’s optimized to learn, engage, adapt, and lead. It’s part map and part step-by-step directions.
JC: I caught your interview with Radian6 CEO, Marcel Lebrun, last week. In the context of “what’s next,” I like how he talked about the shift of how we must line up for our customers instead of the traditional mindset of how they line up for us.
He was using the idea of waiting on the phone in a support queue as an example, but was obviously referring to much more of an encompassing business concept – one he believes we’ll spend “the next 10 years” trying to figure out. What’s your take on his statements, and how might your book address them?
BS: The entire book is based upon the premise that businesses are stuck either reacting to customers or developing products or services in a vacuum that may or may not deliver against needs or aspirations. That’s business as usual and perhaps it will suffice for traditional consumers.
But for connected consumers, businesses have to focus beyond “figuring it out” to getting in front of customer experiences in order to shape and steer them. “The End of Business as Usual” looks at the “why” and also the “how” to help businesses rethink the infrastructure of the organization, the culture, processes, systems, methodologies, and decision trees to improve the internal collaboration needed to promote external collaboration.
You can’t engage externally if you can’t engage within. Employees, like customers, are stakeholders – and their support, input, and passion are critical ingredients in the recipe of tomorrow’s relevance.
JC: Over the years, you’ve referred to the “uh-oh” moment or “a-ha” moment as one that will ultimately lead companies into social media. What are the most common uh-oh moments you are seeing at this point in time?
BS: It’s amazing. Still today, businesses are thrust into social networks because of the “uh oh” moment. What’s even more amazing is that many businesses that are currently engaged in social media are also vulnerable to unsuspecting moments that blindside them into the new reality.
Businesses are not in control of customer experiences because they’re wrestling with the idea of what control really is. Broadcast marketing, screaming louder than consumers, buying media that tells people what to think, again, that’s business as usual.
Facebook currently houses 800 million active residents – that’s the size of the entire Internet in 2004. There’s no going back. Yet businesses today believe that they don’t need a social presence because that “might” invite negative interaction or operate social media in a silo while they wonder why they’re getting service related questions or complaints on a Facebook page dedicated to CSR activity.
JC: Earlier this year, Shiv Singh said, "When it comes to digital marketing I believe marketers need to be more strategists & research minded than idea evaluators and implementers." What’s the first thing that comes to mind regarding how your new book might help marketers (inside of brands or within agencies) best address the ever growing demand for strategy in social media?
BS: Shiv is right. If we examine many successful social media initiatives today, we’ll learn that great ideas connected with consumers to spark word of mouth, interaction, and desirable outcomes.
But in reality, this is yet another example of implementation. And, when you really think about it, there’s very little that’s truly social in everyday corporate social media campaigns. Sometimes I jokingly refer to social media as a great oxymoron.
One of the greatest advantages of social media is to listen to conversations to learn about mentions, context, sentiment, and reach. But when we really hear what people are saying and why, we start to peel back the layers of significance to research, learn, and adapt to new opportunities.
The insights that we extract simply by listening, hearing, and feeling what’s transpiring in social networks helps us translate empathy into action. The result is campaigns, service strategies, products, and so much more. By default, relevance is earned simply by reflecting customer behavior, wants, and opportunities. #AdaptorDie!
Learn more about the book here.