What is the true value of being a social business? And other strikingly relevant questions answered.

Ever since Ed and I launched Orca Social earlier this year we’ve been asked the same questions again and again. So I figure it makes sense to answer these questions in a FAQ style blog post (BTW: for some odd reason I love FAQs). Here it goes.

1. Why focus only on large B2Bs?

In our opinion, B2Bs have much more to gain from jumping on the social media bandwagon than B2Cs. Through social media, B2Bs can reach out and develop relationships with audiences (both customers and end users) who they’ve never been in contact with before.

And B2Bs have a lot to offer the users too. More more than they think. In general, large B2Bs have better stories to tell than B2Cs. They are big and relatively unknown to the public, and yet they usually have long interesting histories, run highly complex and visually fascinating operations, and they employ highly knowledgable people.

This means that B2Bs don’t need to invent content or campaigns. Instead, they can focus on telling the stories that are already there, and empower their own employees to share their expert knowledge with relevant people out there.

Also, very few of the big B2Bs have a mature online presence (some don’t even have a proper website) so there are a lot of low-hanging fruits to be picked.

As for B2Cs, they are mostly stuck in an online presence developed by their Marketing department. And truth be told, social media has never been a good marketing channel.

Photo of a Caterpillar excavator, taken by Peter Dargatz. A good example of the huge visual potential in machines and industrial settings.

Photo of a Caterpillar excavator, taken by Peter Dargatz. A good example of the huge visual potential in machines and industrial settings.

2. Why should companies do social from within?

From our experience (i.e. both what I have experienced in Maersk Line and in my agency years, and what Ed has seen in his roles at Vitrue and Oracle) outsourcing a company’s social media efforts to an agency is downright stupid. It’s much too expensive. It becomes inauthentic and rigid. And, not least, it does not become part of the business.

The knowledge and insights that can be gained from social are immense, and you simply have to empower your own employees and train them if needed.

Doing social from within will also have a positive impact on the corporate culture, indirectly promoting the new paradigm of sharing. These years, thanks to social technologies (both open social networks and internal collaboration tools), there is a shift towards employees finally realising that they gain more from sharing their knowledge than from protecting it. The outcome is efficiency gains and a more modern, transparent culture.

3. Why is Orca member based?

Social media requires an ongoing presence, and your company will need ongoing support more than one-off consultancy. We’ve seen too many social media strategies being developed for companies only to fail miserably once they are handed over and it’s time to execute the strategy.

By making Orca Social member based (it’s a subscription service, sort of) we can support your company on-demand, without having to discuss budgets, invoices and bill you by the hour etc.

Another important part of ‘member based’ is the idea that members can share knowledge and learn from other members, via our online member community or in the real world.

We see no reason to build walls between our clients. Instead, we believe in cross-pollination – either facilitated by us or as something that simply happens when our members network.

I think it makes good sense that we are member based: It means that we do “social on social”.

4. What is the true value of being a social business?

Social media is not just about marketing. It goes way beyond that. Social media is the democratisation of media meaning that today everyone can communicate with anyone. It’s really about social technologies, i.e. technologies enabling two-way communication.

The list of what companies can use social technologies for is almost endless. It spans everything from corporate communication, marketing and customer service via e.g. Facebook, Twitter and blogs; over internal collaboration and social selling, gaining market insights and doing predictive analysis via listening tools; to optimising supply chains and partnering with the crowd (collaborative economy).

The true value of being a social business is not about Facebook ‘likes’ or similar. The big impact on the bottom line will normally come later on, after you’ve established a presence on the most popular networks.

In other words: The impact comes when you scale the efforts. For instance, McKinsey estimates that internal collaboration tools can optimise knowledge workers productivity by 20-25%. And as a rule of thumb social media customer service is twice as effective as traditional customer service (Gartner estimates that by 2020 90% of all companies will handle customer service enquiries via social).

Ultimately, social media is a silo-breaker. It can create a more coherent, user-centric and intelligent culture with efficient collaboration across the enterprise.

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