Why And How To Scale Social Business Programs

As time goes on we’re seeing a rising trend toward social customer support, largely driven by three forces:

  1. Companies are observing high-profile brands successfully executing social support programs and want to realize those benefits
  2. As more and more companies engage in marketing programs through social media, customers are using those two-way channels to demand support from companies
  3. We’re seeing more and more examples of crises driven by online activity; social support offers a way to prevent issues from becoming crises

The challenge companies are facing is how to scale that support in the face of massive demand from a customer base that comes to expect quick, direct engagement.

Jeremiah Owyang recently posted the slides from his presentation on scalable social business programs. Some of his key points:

  1. Get into Hub and Spoke and develop a Center of Excellence
    • Get away from organic and centralized structures, and develop a hub that can support activities throughout the organization
  2. Leverage community for first tier marketing and support
    • Don’t try to just scale 1:1 support – provide the means for customers to support each other then provide second-tier support for those who need it
  3. Integrate both in the customer lifecycle as well as your corporate website
    • Think of how you will engage with people at all stages, from awareness through to advocacy, and think about how you can build social functionality into your corporate website (one of the key trends we’ve identified for 2011)
  4. Launch a formalized advocacy program
    • Cultivate a group of independent advocates who can transparently engage where they see fit
  5. Invest in Social Media Management Systems before you lose control
    • The recent Kenneth Cole and Chrysler mishaps shone a spotlight on the need for controls and education around social media activities. Appropriate systems are a key part of that.

Point #2 is a key one – help your customers and advocates (point #4) to handle a lot of the low-level support for you. That doesn’t mean leaving them unattended; it means providing them with the means to do so – a place to do it and the resources to do so.

Keynote: Invest in Scalable Social Business Programs

These points on scale nicely complement Steve Rubel’s recent thoughts – that, operating in a world limited by time and space, when you can’t expand time you need to focus on expanding your organization’s surface area to scale your activities.

What do you think of all of this?

  • Andrew @ Blogging Guide

    Interesting. These would surely help people like me to learn on how to scale social business program. Loved the read. Thanks.

  • “Leverage Your Community for Support” – I saw this in action, albeit through the slightly hacked use of forum software. The principals at a small software company called Interactive Tools were fanatical about creating and maintaining a culture of service and community engagement. Over time this practice created a group of extraordinarily loyal customers they labeled ‘rabid fans’. These rabid fans proactively shared their expert understanding of products with forum users, while ‘directly’ engaging CSR staff with bug reports and feature requests.

    The company’s willingness to listen and respond to these super-users was so honest and engaging that the customers evolved into a passionate, vocal 3rd arm of the company. They would staunchly protect the company against unfair forum feedback, directly engage new users seeking help on software implementation and rave about how the software made their businesses profitable. It was if the company had extra staff in marketing, customer service and business development.

    This approach allowed them to scale up and service an install base of 1000’s. And they did this with no more than 3 customer service staff. A great example of social business practices.

  • interesting post…. Now a days… social media is a huge potential in online marketing.. so start branding in social media is the best way to.. promote..

  • I think that GLOBAL is a great goal, interesting stuff. In this technology driven world, a company can’t fail by embracing social media and using it to its fullest abilities to help their company to grow!

    J. Souza
    SocialMediaMagic.Com

  • Niloo Mirani

    Very exciting! It will be interesting to look back on this in a few months
    (or years) and look at the development online customer support has had. As a
    consumer, I think it has a lot of potential, and as a marketer, it seems a
    viable option. But keeping it scalable is key, as you mention. Thank you for
    the post!

  •  Honestly, I don’t really measure social media engagement. And maybe if I’ll to measure it, it will just be like counting on the posts and shares. 

    Anyway, thanks for sharing this post. Very helpful. 

    • Can I ask why you don’t measure it? Are you using it for business purposes?
      If so, wouldn’t you want to know what effect it’s having?

      • Thanks for asking. I used social media with my work and with my personal stuff. Social media is on and off. On if we’re online and off if we’re offline, that’s what I’m thinking with social media. If I’ll going to measure it I’ll be ending up to measuring my activities and not the results.

        I believe that whatever we do, we should definitely define the results we’re hoping to get, and then see if we can find ways to measure them.Whatever we do, we should definitely define the results we’re hoping to get, and then see if we can find ways to measure them.