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?

Dave Fleet
EVP Digital at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.