It is very exciting to be at immediate future at the moment! Everyday we are having conversations with intelligent people at brands who are embarking on a digital transformation journey. Within the first few slides in our presentation documents we share a common immediate future belief “social is not the be all and end all…but it has fundamentally changed everything, forever”.

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There is so much going on it is hard to keep up, as brands desperately re-structure teams, update/renew/rip out old technology and business practices in favour of new approaches – all with a view to connected with, engaging, building relationships, transacting with the connect customer of today.

For those like me –  you will geek out on the opportunities to cross fertilizing data streams, integrating technologies, smashing apart “the way we do things” approaches and generally disrupt, rebuild and make better! Those who aren’t – then this is a scary, daunting or altogether futile exercise (I hope your opinion is not the latter for your sake!)

Which ever mindset you are of, if you are thinking digital transformation, you should be putting social at the heart of your thinking as you move forward with these initiatives. Here’s 5 (of many – challenge me I’ll give you plenty more) reasons why:

1. Your customers are social animals

This doesn’t mean they are all on Facebook. Far from it. But they are human, they are social by nature. And they are behaving and communicating as a person of the social age. Consuming vast amounts of content, from a range of different sources, constantly connect via their devices, with high unwieldy expectations and bloody short attention span! If you ignore this point, you are not really embarking on true digital transformation – most likely you are building a new website!

2. Social data will teach you more about your customers and their behaviour

As the bunch at Crimson Hexagon would tell you, “social media is the world’s largest focus group”. They are right you know. And another thing for good measure, the last 5 brands I have spoken to (serious brands as well) can honestly say they do not truly know their customer! Now of course, I am not suggesting you are one of these – but how much do you know about your customer? Beyond name, gender, age and an email address? The rich context of social media data can add a level of understanding about your customers, what they like and don’t like, how they communicate, what they think of your brand, what they want from you and from others. If you are embarking on one such digital transformation initiative, then you need to know who you are doing all of this transforming for right?

3. The future is not email

Sorry, but it’s not. Certainly not how most of the brands of today use it. Hell there is even talk that email will disappear from the workplace forever. Now, like in the context of my recent blog post, the future of the social media department, I am not suggesting for one second email is dead! But as generations of people migrate away from email, to social networks, from Facebook to Snapchat, from text message to WhatsApp is quite easy to see the future is NOT email! However, if you are talking about CRM and the principle of creating ongoing relationships your customers, and you want to call that “social CRM” or something similar then we might be getting somewhere…

4. Social data should be enriching your CRM / single customer view

Nicely linked from the point above. Whether we are talking about an interaction with customer service agent on Twitter, a comment on a Facebook post, a click on a LinkedIn share button, a sign-in on your mobile app – then social interactions, social signals and social data should be fueling your CRM. Done right, this opens the door to engaging the customer on whole new level, cross platform with a seamless experience. It means providing useful, relevant, helpful, timely content, offers and products – hey, potentially even in real-time.  Again, there is not a magic tool, a click of a button or similar that will make this happen this is part of the transformation – but solving the complex problem that is connecting, integrating and utilising social data in building customer relationships IS the future!

And finally…

5. Social media breaks down silos. Fact

One of my favourite phrases, coined by our CEO Katy Howell, “social is leaky”. Bloody leaky, it get’s everywhere – seeping into every department. Challenging how we traditionally interact with customers. Challenging how staff interact with each other internally and externally. Challenging how PR & communications departments respond in a crisis. Challenging how customer services respond to queries and complaints. Challenging HR teams recruit and build their employer brands. You get my point…

But in order to “transform” properly then the whole business must engage in the process, and that is a people thing. It is the people within your organisation who will bring about change, not technology it doesn’t fix everything (sure it enables don’t get me wrong). The reality is that social media is already bringing more departments and people together than ever before, to solve problems, to develop new processes and create solutions. If you need a Trojan horse as part of your digital transformation project, or at least a prominent set of work streams at the heart of what you are doing – then it bloomin’ ought to be social media!

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