In an era of self-proclaimed gurus and experts, there are only few that spend less time talking about themselves and more time focusing on getting down to business. Brian Solis has spent most of his time in social media leading the pack with his focus on big picture thinking and how the necessity for adaptability in business should not be taken lightly. In this quick hit email interview, I managed to get some his time and feedback on his new book, The End of Business as Usual. Brian explains the focus of his book, the shift from Social Media 1.0 to 2.0, and the transition from hype to real value.
You have just put out your new book, The End of Business as Usual. What's it about and why so soon after Engage 1 and Engage 2?
Engage was aimed at social media professionals and forward thinking executives looking for a deep dive in social media. The End of Business as Usual is aimed squarely at change agents and business leaders. It isn’t about social media as much as it is about building a business that connects with a new generation of connected customers.
Think about the ties that bind in social media for a moment. Everything and everyone is connected by shared experiences. What you’re doing, what you’re witnessing, what moves you, what you’re learning, what you love, what you hate, you are compelled to share your experiences. When it comes to businesses, shared experiences assemble to form a brand that’s co-created by the consumers who experience it. Connected customers see this pool of experiences within their social streams or in the results of a social search. Experiences are influential and they are absent from a traditional Google search.
When we think about the consumer, buyer or influencer, whether it’s B2C, B2B, etc., it is no longer just a collection of one type of persona or segment. We are witnessing the emergence of a new class of consumerism, individuals that are far more connected than many of the businesses that attempt to reach them. They require a different approach.
This book deconstructs a new era of business, shares how to connect with connected consumers, and helps you rebuild your organization to be relevant as you compete for the future. It’s hard work. It’s important work. The stories and lessons I share are told through the businesses that are doing this successfully today.
It's been a couple years now since you came out with the first "Engage!". Between that book and this latest one, what are some of the most crucial shifts in social media that you've seen?
Between the release of version 1 in March of 2010 and version 2 in March of 2011, I learned quite a bit about how organizations were or were not changing to adapt to market opportunities. Engage inspired success within departments and also empowered change agents to make social media matter across the entire organization. To help, I decided to give them a bit of air support. Neither book focuses on the technology. The coming change in business is taking place not because of social media or the likes of Facebook or Twitter, but because of what they represent to the connected customer. Expectations are now heightened because of the empowerment these networks offer. Decision making is connected and becoming much more efficient.
I believe that we're at the end of what I call Social Media 1.0, an era of networking and engagement that really was about the hype and not the value.
When you study many of business case studies for social media, you actually find that even though they were successful, they were also very antisocial in their approach. Social media is meant to be just that, social. Yet social media is run within marketing departments in over 50% of businesses out there. The consumer sees one company and expects a holistic presence, meaning that what's next for social media is that regardless of the hot network of the month, businesses need to be present and engaged where their customers are and provide the value necessary to them whether it's marketing, sales, service, R&D, HR, finance, etc.
What do you think the biggest challenges will be for brands during the Social Media 2.0 era?
The biggest challenges start with recognizing that there's a different breed of consumer. How businesses are selling, marketing and servicing customers assumes that all are created equally and that all behave similarly. You and I know that this isn't the case. It requires a new approach, a new philosophy and a new infrastructure to support new engagement.
The book examines how leading companies are finding success with connected customers. The lessons, case studies, and best practices contained within will help readers earn the support of organizational leaders by identifying growth opportunities and prioritizing where to invest time and resources. The end result is creating an adaptive foundation for businesses to not only build relationships with connected customers, but improve customer AND employee relationships overall.
What types of takeaways do you hope your readers will get after reading your new book?
The book is divided into two key parts…
In the first half, The End of Business as Usual looks at the entire new media landscape and explores its effect on consumer behavior, how they find and share information, how they make decisions and influence the decisions of their peers, and how they expect companies to compete for their business.
In the second half, executives learn how to recognize both the short and long-term business impact, how to prioritize opportunities among traditional and connected customers, bring together cross functional teams, and beginning the inevitable process of change toward true customer and employee centricity.
The End of Business as Usual explores the rise of the connected consumer and how organizations can in turn adapt to effective compete for their attention, their business, and most importantly, their loyalty.
This book serves as the manifesto for the change agent giving them everything they need to make the case, make decisions, and bring about meaningful change.
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