Book review /summary : The Executive's Guide to Enterprise Social Media Strategy.

The executive's guide to enterprise social media book review

I just finished reading the "The Executive's Guide to Enterprise Social Media Strategy" by David B. Thomas and Mike Barlow.

Below I wrote a short summary of this book. I only described the chapters and passages that I found interesting.

The book can help managers and people who are interested in social media for both small, big and enterprise companies. The book has a lot of "aha" moments, things you have in your memory, but when they are described in the book, you recognize it and see it slightly different.
I summarized the chapters that I think are interesting or give nice examples.

Chapter 1:

The book (chapter 1) starts with telling that there is no "social media" revolution, but an e-social revolution going on. Social media are just the tools, but all electronic commerce and information is going social. It is a different philosofy.
A nice example is given from a big hotel in NYC, where a line of people is waiting to check in the hotel. There is no information from the counter, why checking in is taking so long. People start twittering about it, since they are slightly bored. Then suddenly a hotel across the road is tweeting something like: Hey, if you are tired of standing in the hotel line of hotel X, we'll set up a room for you at 50 % of the regular price. Some people actually pick up their bags and moved to this hotel across the road.

This describes the power , speed,, complexity, power and potential of using social media.

So learn from following your competitors at social media.

The book is filled with these kind of nice to read examples. A lot of examples also consists of in company use of social media. This is also very interesting. An example is given from the CEO of a large company who updated his status in an internal social media site, where he tells people he has a meeting with a big customer. Somebody at the office noticed that the CEO is traveling to visit this important customer, but this person also knows that the company is late on paying this customer. He warns the CEO about this, so everything could be fixed before this important meeting.

Chapter 2:  is about social media, teamwork and collaboration.

In this chapter also a lot of nice examples are given of successfulcases with social media tools. Nice stories about the use of Social Media by the Vice President of IBM social software group.
The book explains that by using the internal social media software people can create value with these tools.

By updating a status, value is created. In the past with a standard "calendar" that was shared with 1 or 2 or maybe 3 people, there is no value created. Now, with the tools of today, value is created. A vice president is followed by a lot of people inside the company. See the example above, but the book gives much more examples.

Chapter 3: is called the social enterprise

This chapter gives a lot of information about social HR. It gives a lot of reasons and motivations about the use of social media in recruitment but also that it is increasingly important to hire people with social skills. The authors warn companies not to bog down in a discussion with your legal department about the risks of using Facebook by employees and makes a difference between social HR and traditional HR.

The book continuous with a part about social CRM. It tells that the old CRM was mostly about using transactional information, stored in a database to sell more stuff, but the new CRM or social CRM is about figuring out what your customer really wants and then anticipating at their needs.
The customer strategy is now one of engagement, interactivity. It means that you have to optimize or create a customer strategy and engage with your customers in ways that you can create advocates. That is what you want and not (only) satisfied customers. Brand ambassadors you need. There you should focus on.

Part II of the book is called "Building a structure for success"

Part II starts with explaining that to make a success of your social strategy, you need to have every stakeholder involved: marketing, PR, the web team, IT department, Legal, etc. Don't forget customer service!
An important recommendation is to invite also the practitioners and not only the rule makers. So, if there is someone in your company who is passionate about social media and uses it a lot in his/her spare time. Use these people even if they are not in a rule making position.

The book says:

- Identify people who are already active in social media
- Create a social media council
- Make a list of what you are already doing and what your competitors are doing
- Make a list of what the most innovative companies in your industry are doing
- Look at your existing goals and see which ones could benefit from a social media component.

Chapter 5: creating social media guidelines

The book gives again a lot of examples about creating social media guidelines and emphasis that you have to include also the do's and not only the don'ts and to give examples. The book refers to a very interesting website called A site filled with examples from social media guidelines.

Chapter 6: staffing and structuring

The book tells that it is important to have a "social strategist" in house. A person responsible for the overall social media programme (including ROI).
Of course you need also community managers, persons who are the face of a company in social media.

There are different models:

A centralized model:

One department controls all efforts at social media. The book gives examples of organisations who work this way. The risk is that a centralized model may not look authentic.

An organic model:

Not all "dots" may be connected. When there is no strong leadership, often this model is used. It looks very authentic, altough the downside is, that you might have an inconsistent customer experience. If this model is used, there is often no social media team with all stakeholders involved and this might be a risk for inconsistent reporting and systems in the future.

Hub and spoke model:

A cross functional team, led by someone in marketing or web marketing. The team serves as a hub between all business units. It takes resources by doing it this way.

Multiple hub and spoke model:

In larger enterprises you have multiple hub and spokes, often within product units and geographies.

Holistic or Honeycomb model:

Each employee is empowered to participate in social media. There is little or no central control. Best uses by companies in regulated industries.

Chapter 7: Listening measurement, analytics and ROI

This chapter gives examples about tools one can use for measuring and "listening". I think every month new tools are released so it is important to search around and not just copy paste the tools from the book.

Listen but think bigger.

Five different types of conversations organisations should listen for.

  • Customers talking to you
  • People talking about you
  • People talking about your competitors
  • People talking about your customers, suppliers and partners.
  • People talking about your market, withouth mentioning brand names.

In chapter 7 a model is displayed where KPI's as exposure, influence, engagement action, conversion and retention are explained.
They respond at the question: what is the ROI of social media? With What's the ROI of picking up the phone? Because it is a start of a conversation and engagement.
Also some formula's are described how ROI is working and could be measured.

Part III Putting your social media strategy to work

It describes the "old spice" case and why it has worked.
Also many examples from companies that started with social media and made it into a success, like "Graco" that wanted to use social media to reinvigorate the brand. By listening to the community "Graco" did a great job. A while ago, after their social strategy already was a big succes, Graco had to recall some products because it could hurt a child finger's. By using their social media contacts, and apologizing and giving advice, they could see, that after 3 day's moms were telling each other how to get the fix!
To get this, it takes years to build up your community, but this example shows the importance of it.

  • Think like your customers and make a list of the most important issues to them.
  • Find the online communities where your customers engage
  • Start looking for people who are already passionate evangelists of your brand. Spend a lot of time listening to them before saying anything.
  • Once you understand the communities they use and the way they communicate, start finding some genuine ways to show them you recognize and appriciate them.

 Chapter 10: Social Media for B2B

Social media does not change the fundamentals of the relationship between the company and the customer. It provides a channel to extend those relationships far beyond what is possible in the physical realm.  Many examples of the use of social media in B2B, by providing news, white papers, blog posts, video's etc.

Chapter 11: Public relations

The old model of PR was writing a press release.
The new model of PR is that you do not write a press release and hope someone sees it and writes a good story, no you write a good story. Interview your product manager, your ceo and your customers. Make it interesting and fun to read. Promote it using social media tools. Examples are given from various companies for example the Mayo clinic, that did an excellent job by getting nation wide tv attention.
One of the things the Mayo clinic did, was creating a social newsroom, with the free software "wordpress". They made a lot of video's often based on the actuality and news. Social media can excellent be used in a strategy and the book explains more about this.

Chapter 13: The voice of the customer

Customer service isn't a chore, it is the new PR.

Examples are given about using twitter to get people from complainers to brand ambassador's if you are authentic and listen to the complainers.
Dell has social collaboration tool : Dell's ideastorm and it was launched already back in 2007 as a way to talk directly to the customers. Dell has gotten 400 idea's that helped improve existing products and to develop new products.
Often improvements are not even high cost. Rubbermaid's example of people complaining about their sinks, could be solved by the use of some antibacterial material. By giving the solution to the online group the customers were happy to be heard and it saved a lot of phone calles for example.

There is a lot more in this book, but this summary highlights the most important parts in my opinion.


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