The Tale of the Social Brand

On 11th April I had the pleasure of presenting as part of a panel on Business and Social Media for the BCS Young Persons Group. The evening was kicked off by Jemima Gibbons telling a wonderful story about use of social media by businesses, prompting Joanne Jacobs (if I recall correctly) to comment “you should put that on YouTube!” Well she has:


Although I do not think Jemima used the phrase (John Machtynger and I did that quite enough!), I think this is a great articulation of what it means to be a Social Business. The sort of engagement with your customers she is talking about is exactly what a social business should be striving to achieve. Those are the businesses that will generate loyal customers who will pay a premium for their products. Those are the businesses that will detect customer satisfaction problems and shifts in the buying behaviour in their market before the res.

Which was the one of the themes of Joanne got passionate about at the same event (she blogged some of the content after the event). Sure, you can have a social media strategy run purely by marketing that creates blogs and twitter posts. But that is not a social business. You must be authentic to get the value of being a social business – which means exposing the experience, abilities, skills, indeed personality of your staff to your customers through social channels.

This is exactly what has been articulated in IBM’s Social Computing Guidelines for some years:

… discourse through social computing can empower IBMers as global professionals, innovators and citizens. These individual interactions represent a new model: not mass communications, but masses of communicators. Through these interactions, IBM’s greatest asset–the expertise of its employees–can be shared with clients, shareholders, and the communities in which it operates.

Therefore, it is very much in IBM’s interest—and, we believe, in each IBMer’s own—to be aware of and participate in this sphere of information, interaction and idea exchange … to learn … to contribute.

So thanks to Jemima, Joanne and Jon, as well as the other talented co-panelists, LJ Rich and the always amazing Sue Black, for an entertaining and thought provoking evening, to the BCS members present (some young, some not so young) for their intelligent questions, and especially to Itua for organising the event.

And shame on all those companies who do not understand social business, and so are not actively encouraging their employees to come along to events like this, and to build their social networks online and offline. If Philip Clarke, the CEO of Tesco, gets it, shouldn’t you be paying attention? And Jemima’s video is a great place to start.