social business change guaranteeThink back five, four, three, two and even one year ago. How different was your business? How different did you communicate with your clients, partners, service providers, and employees?

A year ago were you still saying social media was just a fad? Five years ago were you one of the folks stating the internet was a fad? Have you finally accepted you do have clients, potential clients and partners on Facebook?

There is only one thing that is guaranteed with social media and that is change. Life and business as you know it will never be the same as it was or is today, tomorrow.

Facebook has more than 550 million users of which 50% are active on a daily basis. Twitter now claims they have 500 million registered users and is seeing on average 13 users sign up per second!

It's no doubt that we are in the midst of massive change and business evolution. The question is what does this change look, smell and taste like for business leaders? How can you be prepared? How can you be ready to embrace the change in a positive way that will drive your business forward and keep you connected with your communities, clients, partners and other stakeholders?

What does this change look like for business leaders, business owners, corporate executives, board of directors and employees?

16 Ways Social Media Is Changing Your Business Today

1. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Just as you learn the latest tools and tech, integrate the right processes and procedures deep into the DNA of your business, it is guaranteed to change. Acknowledge it, accept it and you'll be one step ahead of competition from the start.

2. People are talking about you and your brand, like it or not.  You can't run and hide from the need to proactively manage your online reputation. There is already a conversation  and online party happening in your honor regardless if you care to acknowledge it or not. You can either choose to be part of the conversation or choose to be left out of your own party that you could be reaping the benefits of hosting. At minimum start with social listening so you can learn what people are currently saying about your brand online.

3. Welcome to the media business. You are now in the media business even if your services have nothing to do with media. You and your employees are a walking, tweeting, Facebooking, Googling, LinkedIn networking media channel. Every tweet, post and like is a reflection of your brand, period.

4. You can't hide employees. Accept the fact that you and your employees are your brand. Your potential clients are watching what your employees tweet and post on Facebook, even if you aren't!

5. Even if your business is not yet using social media, your employees are.

6. Ignorance is no longer an excuse, sorry. Get a grip quick and respect the fact that your key audiences, stakeholders and communities want to communicate with you via the social ecosystem. Ignoring this fact could be considered as risky as not doing social media at all. They are asking you questions, complaining about you and wanting to engage with you on Twitter. They expect an answer and ignoring the fact they are communicating with your abandoned or automated self promoting Twitter account is not increasing your brand equity or bottom line.

7. You no longer control the conversation. Social media presents an amazing opportunity to increase brand equity via earned media. However, you do not control the conversation. Your clients, partners, colleagues and even competitors do. They now have the opportunity to start dialog with you on Facebook, Twitter, their own private blog, Google+ or anywhere they have a voice. The days of deciding when and where you will do focus groups or listen to your customers is over. They have the ability to conduct a real-time unsolicited focus group right on your own Facebook page.

8. It's either going to happen on your Facebook wall or theirs. You might as well join the conversation as it is going to happen with or without you. Why not enable the ability to open up the conversation on your turf where you can turn a negative into a positive. Doing such provides an opportunity to earn the respect of all those listening and reading by the way you professionally respond.

9. You need a social media policy now.  You may have a social media policy that prohibits employees from logging into social network sites from the office, tweeting during working hours, talking negatively about their job, their boss or they paycheck. Sorry Charlie, but your employees are tweeting from their iPhones, Androids, iPads and more. They are sharing they are tired of their job, their boss and the broken soda machine in the break room. Implementing a social media policy that is too restrictive is going to get ignored. If you don't know where to start then hire someone to help. What will you do when an employee does something off the wall that negatively impacts your brand? How will you handle it? What is the escalation path? What are the repercussions? How do you mitigate the issue from happening in the first place?

10. Social media is not just for kids, grandmas and the jobless. There are more than kids on Facebook as well as millions of people who are doing more than looking for jobs on LinkedIn.

11. If you aren't using social media, you're creating language barriers with your audiences. There are people visiting your outdated website that may not be calling you for business because you aren't communicating in words and in ways they understand. There are conversations happening across the social waves where people are asking for referrals for services such as yours but you aren't part of the conversation.

12. Your customers expect an answer when they tweet you even if you haven't checked your Twitter account since 2010. Better find that password and setup a meeting with your customer service, communications, public relations, and other stakeholders to kickoff a discussion for how you are going to begin implementing process and procedures for handling this new medium for customer support and communication. At minimum get these conversations started as it is going to take much alignment and time to execute efficiently.

13. Relationships need nurtured via different mediums. People are bombarded with information via tweets, status updates, text messages, alerts, emails and more. It's important you are able to effectively keep the communication pulse healthy with your audiences in a way that it doesn't just sound like noise. Inspire your email newsletter subscribers to open your emails because they know there is something inside of value, something that will inspire, educate, or help them solve a business problem.

14. You will not achieve instant results with social media. If you are expecting an immediate ROI and metrics that will make the board of directors and corner office happy with your investment in social media, good luck. It's time to set appropriate goals, objectives, milestones and measures for success that are spread out over the next one, two three or more years. Facebook likes are not going to save your business. It's best you set proper expectations from day one versus make broken promises because you don't know what or how to measure for success.

15. Skipping the planning phase is not a smart move. Random Acts of Marketing (RAMs) are not going to turbo boost you to success as a social business. The better you can align social media with business goals where social media can have an impact, the higher your results will be. Take time to understand your audience, priority markets, their needs, pain points, and how your products or services can solve their problems.

16. Integration into the DNA of your business is a requirement not an option. As social media, mobile marketing, online communities, twitter conversations, Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, Pinterest boards grow by the millions, do you really think it is possible to keep your business stuck in the ice age away from these new communication channels and have success? The answer is no. If you don't figure out how to start integrating social media into your business, you may find yourself not only left out of the conversation, but also missing your own party and unable to understand even a word in a new language being created by those embracing the changes.


Get a Grip on Social Media: 

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 15 Reasons Random Acts of Marketing (RAMs) and Social Media Don't Work

Your Turn:

What are your thoughts on accepting change? Are you seeing a trend that business leaders are accepting their business models, service models, product delivery models and communication must adapt or die? Or are you still seeing business leaders hold on to the past, afraid to change, or feeling constrained to adopt new ways of doing business due to strained economy and budgets?

What do you think the social ecosystem and the social business will look like five years from now?