As per one of my 2012 resolutions, I promised myself I would read at least one business book per month. Reading different authors is a great way to get different perspectives on hot topics while providing interesting material in the form of book reviews for this blog. This is therefore the first in a series of monthly posts, so I hope you enjoy them!
There are many so-called social media experts out there, but Brian Solis is certainly in a category of its own. His most recent book, The End of Business as Usual, came out during the Fall of 2011 and is a must-read for anybody slightly interested in understanding how consumers behave nowadays, with the multiplication of platforms, from traditional point of sales to social media, including mobile, tablets and location-based services. If you read the book throughout and are aware of the tectonic changes happening in the online world these days, you’ll find that the subtitle is pretty much bang on: Companies will need to rewire the way they work to succeed in this consumer revolution.
Now, I will have to admit reviewing this book is a pretty daunting task, as it took me close to a month to get through it all, reading it at a pace to properly digest all of the data, case studies and expert advice gleaned over its 283 pages. So instead of regurgitating its content or rehashing it, I will share the quotes that struck me most. But first, listen to what Chris Brogan had to say about the book:
Highlights from the book:
In Chapter 2, talking about the Millennial generation – folks born between mid-70s and late 90s, Brian shares some pretty solid data from an Edelman Digital report. Did you know:
- In the US, this generation represents 25% of the population, or 77 million Americans;
- Worldwide, 70% feel that once they find a company or product they like, they keep coming back;
- 58% are willing to share more personal information with trusted brands;
- 47% will write about their positive experiences with companies and products online;
- On the flipside, 39% will share negative encounters;
- Less than 1% of Millennials will actually let companies know they have a problem through a traditional call center or email;
- On average globally, 86% will share their brand preferences online
Twitter is your window to relevance, but Facebook is your home page for the Social Web. (Brian Solis, page 20)
In Chapter 9, Brian takes a closer look at measures of digital influence and social capital. His approach, to simplify the measurement, the pillars of influence should be arranged in what he calls the 3Rs: reach, relevance, and resonance. Chapter 10, the rise of collective commerce, contends that brands must establish a social equilibrium whereby the 4 C’s of community drive measurable and mutually beneficial activity and engagement through the thoughtful introduction of:
1. Content (including creation & curation)
social commerce = personalized + collaborative + shareable shopping experiences. (Brian Solis, p. 123)
As Brian points out, social commerce, like any new medium such as mobile or social media, will require a great shift in methodology. It starts with letting go of the dot-com as the core hub for customer traffic and engagement.
Talking about brands and branding (Chapter 13), company messages and creative marketing might help prep a customer for consideration, but connected customers rely upon one another to help make more informed decisions.
Companies will also need to reinvent their brand and sales cycles, as the traditional purchase funnel has evolved with the advent of social media. As per a McKinsey research shared in Chapter 14, it was found that “Brand awareness matters: brands in the initial-consideration set can be up to three times more likely to be purchased eventually than brands that aren’t in it”. (p. 183)
The first step on the road to relevance and, ultimately, customer centricity is acceptance. You can’t be customer-centric if you don’t know who customers are and what it is they value. (Brian Solis, p. 193)
Treating topics such a the definition of engagement and how it lives and breathes through touchpoints between brands and consumers, Brian shares an excellent case study based on Virgin Atlantic airlines, and how they engage with their customers via their various channels. Then, addressing the need for companies to adapt their business model, he makes a strong point that employees, just as much as consumers, will unite to build the business of tomorrow. It’s now the responsibility of the brand to lead experiences (that will be shared) toward customer satisfaction, loyalty and profitability.
If you have also read the book, what were your highlights? And even if you have not read the book, how do you feel about companies needing to make this shift due to this new, ever-increasing real-time sharing between connected customers?