Monday, June 11, 2012

Part 3 Duh...Businesses have always been Social

I am going to state this up front. I do not think highly of Edelman Digital. They want to be thought leaders in the Social Space and I don't find their thoughts much more than self serving. I had a bit of a disagreement with Michael Brito on his blog post about Social Business. Edelman is pushing the term 'Social Business' in a way that is skewed towards their business.

Let's start with Michael claiming what all the people say in all these Twitter chats focused on how business should run. 

DUH! Well of course Edelman knows if the CEO get's hooked the purse opens.

In fact I discussed a while ago why Social is not in the C-Suite and btw it still isn't. Not until CEO's see their bonuses being impacted in a meaningful way. I told Michael that businesses have always been social. Michael didn't agree.

And when I responded back with the cold hard truth that unless everyone benefits from better communication and goals they won't do anything the CEO spouts. They will do what maximizes their paycheck nothing more and nothing less. Of course when I responded Michael didn't respond back which isn't very social is it? Because today's business problems are the same as yesterdays. Tools change. Systems change. But they are the same problems in a different form.

Businesses have been striving to improve for years. The CEO's LOVE to jump on board the 'Idea of the Day'. In the 90's there was ISO9000 and Six Sigma. In the 2000's Kaizen and Lean Manufacturing. For communicating we had email, staff meetings, intranets, etc. Today it is Social Business. Which really says nothing to me. Often players come in and make a killing schilling stuff to CEO's who bite hook line and sinker. So Edelman is fortunate to be in the current space.

If a company approached Edelman and asked about Social Business, if Michael was honest and said "To be truly communicative you will need to ensure all workers have a stake in the profits in a way that truly motivates them. Let's start with 20% given back to Employees". How many CEO's would choose short term vs long term? They would see the hit on earnings as a hit to the short term share price and even their bonus as well as all bonuses for upper management who get paid in stock options. With no loyalty even at the top this is a very hard sell. Long term that decision could propel the business to great heights though. But will the CEO be there still? 

But if Edelman leaves that part out they very well might get paid a lot of money to set up systems and platforms to try to make the business more social without any carrot for success. I am not sure what the answer from Edelman would be since Michael didn't elaborate. And the fact is all businesses don't have to be 'Social' but they do have to be communicative. 

My point here is Edelman is selling Social Business so of course their blog posts will be pushing this. Even though businesses have always been social!

Take a step back. There is value in what you read from Edelman employees. But if you really want to be shown ways to improve your intracompany communication you need to find people or an agency that have no platforms or agendas to sell you and can actually objectively guide you with what is best for you. That could mean them choosing an Agency like Edelman if their skill set matches your needs. Or completely different solutions that might not even have the word Social attached. You need to have a choice of all tools and platforms because each business is unique and has their own goals and objectives.

Seek people like Cheryl Burgess from Blue Focus Marketing, or Gini Dietrich at Arment Dietrich who co-Wrote a great book with Geoff Livingston of Razoo called Marketing in the Round. All give great advice on how to improve and galvanize intracompany communication, and external with customers and suppliers. They teach solutions for challenges and are very objective vs biased. Trust me Cheryl is cringing because she loves the term Social Business even if I don't. But we both have the same viewpoints on communication itself for organizations. Read her posts for ATT's Networking Exchange Blog  And when you read posts on this by Gini Dietrich on Spin Sucks you don't see her pushing any platforms vs pushing your success.


  1. Right again Howie, but then again you are smart like that.

    Maybe Pete Cashmore will let you back in his place; did you know he's worth close to $100 mil? Shut the front door........

    1. It is really sad how many people are rich for no reason. Unlike you my friend. You earned it. But marketing often trumps substance.

  2. Hi Howie,

    Thanks for the very kind mention at the end of your post. I’ll admit that you are right: I did cringe a little upon reading this, but I think you and I see eye to eye on the essential fact that employee success and satisfaction will largely help drive company success. My earlier post, “The Rise of Social Business” approaches the concept more from the perspective of the employee, rather than from that of the C-Suite. While I do think executives can help drive a culture change by leading through example, I also agree with you that such a culture change is likely not possible without the right incentives for the employee. Businesses have indeed always been social—one need look no further than the water cooler to understand that—but one thing social media seems to have done is make that water cooler a lot larger.

    Cheryl Burgess

    1. Thank you so much for the comment Cheryl sorry for the 1999 technology here.

      I think you use terminology for lack of a better way to differentiate vs some catch phrase meant to hook someone.

      I had recently used an example of a Walmart Stock clerk, underpaid, no healthcare, not feeling valued identifying some trend that could make the store lots of money and maybe the company. If they knew bringing this to management would reward them, they will. if they just get a pat on the back, like the water cooler they will go home or the bar and tell everyone what idiots they work for.

      That is the challenge. Giving incentive and tools and empowerment. Which is the goals you are working on with your ATT efforts.

      And if the results hit the bottom line it will be in the C Suite. Big time.

  3. I love this. But I disagree on one point, which is motive. Even the purest consultant has motive. That does nt mean that the client's needs are not placed first. But it does mean that the consultant has something to gain as well. What changes is scale.

    1. You should charge $47 for this comment!!

    2. Hi Liz! Yes I agree with you. I have motive obviously. This also goes to my industry advertising/marketing in general. What Agency will reduce their billings if it was best for the client? Would a big media buyer tell Pepsi 'Why are you spending $500mil with us? We can show you how to get the same results for $400mil'

      I know small businesses can't often afford to pay a consultant and an agency, but they would benefit from going to an objective source who helps them choose the proper agency.

      There is a reason 50% of advertising and marketing spend is wasted and the joke is 'but which 50%' because the industry likes this 'voodoo' approach. Like would Danny tell a business 'aw you really only just need Tweet Deck vs Jugnoo'...well he probably would because he is an honest bastard like that.