by Jane Anderson, Featured Contributor
DO YOU NEED a compelling reason to read a book? A catchy title piques my interest, the cover might be a magnet, but what really clinches it for me is a quick glance through the table of contents and a discerning scan of a few key chapters. I have yet to be tossed out of a bookstore for lingering too long with multiple books opened while I make a decision. A World Gone Social is one of those rare books that impressed me enough to purchase the eBook as well as the hardback copy. I could write in detail what I learned and what you will want to learn, but that means hours of my time and hours of your. That could satisfy one of the tenets of this book, ‘less media, more social’, but let me explain how this book impacted my understanding of what it means to go social. When you pick up your copy, you can see how it affects yours.
Mark Babbitt and Ted Coine’ explore how the Social Age changes business on every level. To quote them, “One of the biggest challenges since the Industrial Age is not Social Media. It is transparency.” This book expertly describes the impact of ‘more social, less media’ to the point that readers understand how to transform old methods to new. Social is not campaigning to broadcast your message, but rather to engage: anticipate, listen, communicate in conversation. The key is aiming for OPEN collaboration as the norm, which can only be attained when both customers and employees are actively engaged.
Social Media is not one word. There is Social, then there is Media. In the Industrial Age, media was king. Marketers prepared the message to broadcast. Let the media pick it up and further broadcast. Campaigns were planned, scheduled, conducted, and measured. Nowhere in that process is the word ‘engage’. Social is practically defined as engagement. Being engaged is the cornerstone of social. Social is word-of-mouth, it’s connecting, it’s interacting, it’s being involved, it’s listening, it’s being transparent. Social starts with employees. The authors discuss the effects of engagement on employee relationships and their emotional investment in the organization, on loyalty, on trust, and on satisfaction. To back up from that fact, social starts with the recruiting process. Organizations putting social to good work are champions at representing their brands. They don’t just post job openings, they mentor, they blog, they build relationships. They are present on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. They set the stage for hiring employees not just because they have the skills, but because they fit the culture and the position.
Customer Service is a leadership issue. In the Social Age, customer experience comes first. This goes far beyond the Industrial Age philosophy that ‘the customer is always right’. The authors talk about the framework for every organization which consists of three roles: making, selling, and serving. Regardless of the role, everyone serves the customer. Social media has taken customer service public in ways that didn’t exist in the Industrial Age. Listen, you can’t afford to have satisfied customers, you need engaged customers. Service is what the customer sees and feels – and they talk about it – all the time. As a leader, grasp this central formula: Leadership + Culture + Service = Profits Learn about it in Chapter 12.
This book is a goldmine for organizations who want to become champions of the Social Age. There is too much to share for one short book report, so let me cover just two more of my favorite chapters – then I’ll let you off the hook. I encourage you to pick up your own copy of A World Gone Social. I’d let you borrow mine, but it is literally inked up, and highlighted in yellow, pink, and orange. Definitely not going into any resale.
Flat: The New Black grabbed my attention immediately. I have long been curious about the concept of the flat organization. There are authors and business consultants who understand it, work with them, and easily envision process without boundaries and structure without silos. The authors delve into the specifics of what it means to have a flat organization – no managers. Huh? I know. That’s what I said, and the authors recognize this will be a hurdle for traditional large organizations. Still, after reading about the intent and proven benefits of organizations void of the widget & line org chart, I am ready for that culture. Seriously! Read the chapter and you will be inspired by how organizations are working flat. Two keys required to pull it off: 1) must have mature, responsible, adult team members; 2) must be very specific on expectations and performance. Read the chapter to formulate your own thoughts on the flat organization and find out how organizations function without hierarchy and why employees perform better in flat organizations.
The OPEN Challenge: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Network – so this was my favorite part of the book, probably because I am ordinary. But I am also an information junkie and a chronic knowledge sharer. If I learn something new, I go in search of someone to teach it to. No surprise, then, that the pages where Ted and Mark defined the benefits of living and working in the Social Age were captivating. I’m paraphrasing here, but in essence they said: Every individual has expertise in some areas but is completely ordinary in others. Together we comprise an extraordinarily powerful network of knowledge, imagination, skills, and abilities to solve any challenge. Each of us can tap into that network to mitigate the chasm between the knowledge of what some know and what we do not. There is power in OPEN methodology and the authors describe how to tap into it, create it, develop it, and thrive in it.
OK wait! I said only two chapter summaries and I’d let you go, but can I just have two more minutes? You will really want to read and absorb the chapter Building a World-Class Team for the Social Age. The authors ask penetrating questions leading to a quantified assessment of readiness for leading your teams to be ‘more social, less media’. They implore you to look at the reality of your current employer brand and they show you the inside view of an OPEN community. Ted and Mark suspect your organization already has the making of an OPEN community.
Provided at no extra charge, is a Social Sanity Check. If you’re on social now – get it and use it. If social is on your wish list, get the book now – the Social Sanity Check will be there when you’re ready to go.