How far can social media take the traditional enterprise?


Social media still rests a little uneasily in many enterprises. At the large end of the scale, it is hard to adapt older marketing communications workflows to react to the 24/7 nature of social media response. There are also issues of transparency after a generation or more of secrecy and spin.

Smaller enterprises can react more flexibly but the resources and skills are difficult to find and afford. Social media excellence takes time and needs rewarding. However, these are operational matters that are being addressed.

At a strategic level, there is a more pressing issue: does intensive social media involvement imply changes to all business processes and even commercial models? With changes from digital delivery and social media in the recorded music business, commercial video, publishing, printed media and, indeed, many other industries, should all enterprises be consulting the digital crystal ball?

Certainly, enterprises are developing online communities and trying to create stronger brand relationships, from sectors as disparate as carmakers launching new models to professional services firms developing inner customer “sanctums”. FMCG brands are also finding ways to engage customers in product development and testing via social media.

LONDON Advertising's new office

LONDON Advertising’s new office reflects its business model

Start-up advertising agency, LONDON, has found a way of simplifying the creative process, on the one hand, while using experienced professionals and a digital delivery system to handle campaigns anywhere in the world with much lower costs. Significantly, they have been transparent about their costs, a key part of digital transformation and an anathema to the traditional advertising agency.

There are two main approaches to digital transformation: the first is to evolve by developing products or services which have digital DNA built-in, whilst gradually adjusting the enterprise, its skillsets and workflows to accommodate this evolution.

The second approach is more radical: set up a lab, a skunkworks, a new manufacturing or service facility and get new talent to take responsibility for its outcomes. Such a laboratory can adopt a trial-and-error approach and learn very rapidly. Finding the balance between a successful skunkworks and the mother enterprise will be a challenge but less of a challenge than not doing anything at all.