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August 14, 2014

5 Characteristics that Define Social Business Success

By Karen J. Bannan

Millions of organizations say they are embracing social business, but just how many are successful? It can be a difficult question to answer. Recently, The Economist Intelligence Unit took the guesswork out of the equation for 25 companies, placing their executives to a list of social business leaders. Five of the companies received even bigger accolades, being placed on a Top 5 list.

The companies have a number of characteristics in common – things that make them good at social business. Below, find five commonalities that help businesses like Cemex, Estee Lauder and Red Robin Gourmet Burgers succeed.

They bring together disparate roles and job functions: Mondelez International is a snack food company that sells popular brands such as Cadbury, Ritz Crackers, Trident and Oreos. Traditionally, those who hold different ad roles rarely meet – or meet once or twice a year during planning and budgeting meetings. However, by creating a social media “war room,” the company was able to connect brand, agency and senior marketing executives so they could come up with great ideas on the fly.

They challenge their employees via social business channels. Ford Motor Co. needed a way to identify brand influencers and connect the dots between who they were and where they lived so the company asked its employees via social business: “Can anyone combine a Google map with a calendar system?” Within minutes there were six replies.

They make social business easy to understand. A discussion is only useful if you can understand what everyone else is saying. Building materials company Cemex is a global organization that sells products in more than 50 countries. Cemex’s communications platform Shift was being used to share information and collaborate, via blogs, wikis and videos, but it wasn’t until the company added a translation feature that every one of its more than 43,000 employees could actually connect.

They provide the right technology and connectivity tools. Red Robin Gourmet Burgers uses social business tools to disseminate its training and employee manual, which now features interactive games and simulations. Employees can access this information via 1,700 Apple iPads that are in place in the restaurants.

They take information created in social business channels to the offline world. Estée Lauder encourages its employees to “share their insights and help shape and target brand messages to local consumers.” That information is moved out of social business channels where it can make a difference.

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