SMC Book Review: Get Bold by Sandy Carter

Social Business “embeds social in all its processes, connecting people to people, people to information and data to insight. It is a company that engages its employees and clienst in a two-way dialogue with social  tools, is transparent in sharing its expertise beyond its four walls and is nimble in its use of insight to change on a dime.”

Sandy Carter has the chops to write a book on “social business” she’s the VP of IBM’s Social Business Evangelism. As a daughter of an “IBM’er” I’ve watched with fascination as IBM has transformed itself in the past 25 years. But perhaps the most fascinating shift for this “traditional” big business is its ability to embrace social media to accomplish its business objectives. If Sandy Carter can create a path for a behemoth like IBM to embrace the new way of business, “Social Business” then surely business owners of all sizes can learn from her insight. Carter’s story is so similar to other thought leaders in the social space, they began by using social tools personally and as a result, the business began paying attention.  She finds that successful social businesses have three characteristics, they are Engaged, Transparent and Nimble. Again, if a business the size of IBM can incorporate these characteristics into its business model, imagine how smaller companies who are significantly more nimble can incorporate the other two to stand out in this social space.

Carter sets forth 6 key steps for developing a social strategy for your business. The AGENDA Model is a flexible and smart, step by step process. Supported by a wide variety of case studies, readers get to see how “Social Business” is implemented in the real world.

A – Align organizational goals and culture: “Culture eats strategy for lunch,” says Carter. This means leadership has to be not involved, but supportive of its employees who can act as brand ambassadors.
G– Gain Social Trust: Forming an audience and more importantly, friends, clients and other stakeholders.
E – Engage through experiences like gaming and interactive platforms. Carter says that “Experience will be King (and Queen) in the coming years.” in otherwords, it won’t be about content, it will be about how your audience interacts with your company and its product through experiences that create emotional connections.
N – “Social” Network your processes and making social media work for your business objectives. “Socially enabling your processes is a key competitive weapon.” – Jeremiah Owyang
D – Design for reputation & risk management speaks to developing a way to respond quickly when there brand or product emergencies. A major part of this design, is listening and responding quickly.
A – Analyze data. Carter says analytics are the new black and I couldn’t agree with her more.

So does it apply to small and medium businesses?

Not every business has the resources that IBM has, so will this book help them too? The short answer is “yes, if you are willing to take risk.” A recurring theme throughout is that for exciting (Bold) results, there has to be an inherent willingness to take a risk.  In fact, although the case studies are larger organizations, the take aways for businesses of all sizes are the same, including willingness to create exciting change. Social Business really starts with culture and that’s something that all businesses have. What’s so fascinating about  Get Bold is that it proves that social media DOES scale.  In fact, one of Carter’s key take aways is to incorporate all disciplines of an organization within social media strategy and implementation. Using this model, we see that businesses don’t have to hire a single person for social media, but can spread out the work among several, this is particularly helpful for small and medium size businesses. For larger businesses, this may seem scary at first, but Carter does a great job of explaining how to lay the ground work for such implementation.

What stood out for me when I look at businesses in Hawaii, was the “N”, Social Networking Processes. By creating or modifying internal processes to reflect the use of social media, businesses can take full advantage of the opportunities while saving themselves time in the social engagement process. This really means creating communication paths and empowering other departments such as HR and Customer Service to utilize social media to achieve departmental and overall business goals.

For those who joined SMCHI for the Creating a Social Media Policy Event on February 21, Carter has some succinct advice for how to create an internal policy; her 1o steps address business culture and expectations while keeping the policy itself clear and to the point. With her 10 recommendations, she also provides links to additional policy samples. She also references the differences between “social employees” and traditional employees, much of which we also discussed at our last event. In other words, social employees are coming, ready or not. Its time to think about ways to encourage social employees in your business rather than hinder them; they can do much more for your business when they are empowered.

Most exciting for small and medium businesses is the ROI considerations that Carter considers. She understands that social media impacts all parts of a business; Carter even gives examples of how social media can impact specific goals for businesses. No matter what size business you are – creating goals and measuring against them is the only way to measure ROI. But Carter also points to cost savings such as YouTube videos which are less expensive than advertising. Carter even references some affordable tracking programs that businesses of all sizes can use.

Overall, this is a great read for businesses of any size, no matter where they are in “socializing” their business. There are actionable insights in Get Bold that can take you to the next level. Period. Get your copy here (non affiliate link)


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