I have a confession to make. You want to know the real reason why I love it when a company boldly goes “all in” with content marketing and social business transformation?
Because it means that organization is about to invest in a stronger company culture.
If the new sales strategy is building trust and humanizing your brand, then the new marketing strategy is company culture.
Becoming a social enterprise is about more than marketing. It’s about connecting. It’s about people.
It is about your brand coming to life because employees live it and your customers celebrate being part of it.
Truth >> Social business transformation scares the pleated-pants off business executives with a weak company culture.
To be a social business and have a content marketing culture, business leaders must trust employees:
- to have a voice
- to be good listeners
- to be agile problem solvers
- to communicate via new mediums
- to be great collaborators
- to be your living brand
Do all these things happen on their own when you “go social”? Not. so. much.
For a social business and a content marketing culture to thrive, executives must provide great leadership, clarity, mission and humanity to the organization. Otherwise, an executive command of “go forth and be social” is about as dangerous as kicking up an ant hill… barefoot… and then standing in it. Not cool.
Being a social business that rocks content marketing is much bigger than strategy. It’s a culture.
Dear Corporate Leadership
Please get back to being a business of people… serving people. Sounds a tad cheesy but seriously. Stop trying to be a big “corporatey,” over-processed, over-mechanized, over-bureaucratic, over-org-charted machine. Smoke and mirrors and perfection is out. Authentic, human, collaboration and innovation from real-time engagement is in.
If you treat your business like a machine then don’t be surprised when your employees act like passionless robots. Ever find yourself scratching your head wondering why on earth your machine-like, killer strategy isn’t thriving? Check your culture (and check your heart).
Strategy + Culture
If you’re going to be a social business on the outside, then you have to have a social company culture on the inside. [Outside = Inside]
If you’re going to be transparent and helpful and collaborative online, then you have to model those same qualities offline in the way your employees and departments and leadership interact. [Online = Offline]
If you’re going to be a brand that acts socially helpful, respectful, patient, encouraging, and optimistic then you need to be those (as well as hire for, coach and encourage those qualities). [Act = Be]
If you’re going to be a social business, invest in your employees and your culture. Lead by example internally first.
- Culture trumps everything else in business ~@PatrickLencioni
- Dynamic cultures hardwired to social media lead to real-time improvement and greater success ~@MeghanMBiro
- Culture is how great companies attract the best talent in the world ~@AimeeGroth
Here’s the good news… Transforming your company culture starts with you. You can do it. Every company on fire started with a spark. Be the spark.
If you’re looking for a variety of examples of organizations aligning culture and social marketing strategy here are a few of my favorites to watch and learn from.
1. Block Imaging – They are a small business in a very niche market (refurbished medical imaging equipment and service) that involves every single employee in their content marketing efforts. Below is a video from their President, Josh Block, with a special message for other businesses considering a content marketing culture. He shares the powerful implications of a content marketing culture on sales, business growth, branding, team relationships and organizational culture.
2. Enterasys - On top of being an award winning provider of unified communications solutions for the healthcare and education industry, they’ve not only pursued social business excellence, they’ve written the book on it… literally. Social Business Excellence is packed with tons of actionable ideas for any organization looking to pursue “going social” but the one specific idea I’ll highlight here is their culture card. As you can see in the image below, their culture card spells out the qualities and expectations of the Enterasys culture. What isn’t shown in the image below is the second page of the document that contrasts the traits of an average company versus the traits of an innovative growth company. I wish I could show you the table because it is a very smart use of stark contrast and succinct examples to provide context and understanding for the entire team.
3. Burberry – Angela Ahrendts transformed the Burberry brand into a truly social enterprise and is often asked about the company culture’s role in achieving such significant growth and performance under her leadership (in their case, “performance” means doubling revenue). Here is a 5-minute video interview with HBR where Angela shares the reason why being a social enterprise and culture of digitally connected employees, suppliers and customers is the future of business.
I could go on and on about the social strategies and cultures developed at these companies but I’ll save those for future posts. Bottom line, it is strategy + culture = success. But none of those work if you forget the people part.
Your Input Matters
Does culture play an important part in your company’s strategy for growth? What other companies do you see rocking a great mash-up of sales and marketing strategy embedded in their culture? What shapes your company culture?