Social ROI. Impressions. Retweets. And the effervescent “like”. Yes, they all still matter. Social media is a shiny object that still glimmers. But now it’s time to figure out how to truly integrate it into our businesses. I recently spoke at Social Media Today’s Social Shakeup Conference and had an inspiring discussion with Ray Wang, Chairman of Constellation Research. He suggested that social media has been a magically exciting detour within an existing digital revolution, and we’re now only getting back to the core of digital. I  agree.

Digital has transformed business for years. Automation has made it easier to scale core marketing and sales efforts, helping businesses reach new audiences and increasing sales. But now, social must become the underlying platform that powers growth and opportunity. People drive technology, and people drive social, but integrating both to truly humanize your business, introduces a huge challenge.

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Empowering people to be social within big brands is a pretty scary prospect for most executives. Traditionally, a CMO would carefully craft its brand position and aesthetic, architect a brand hierarchy and release it into the wild as a one-way conversation. But today, as a social business, the role of a CMO is very different; the necessary skills and qualifications are shifting with the shift toward social business.They must understand the digital landscape, its tools and technologies, and how the people within their brand and their customers, are using them. They have to understand the boundaries within and outside the walls of their brand to develop a voice, a response strategy and active listening and engagement models to scale the many simultaneous conversations taking place in infinite places across the web. And they need to have the confidence in their infrastructure, trust the undulation of their brand, and come to terms with the fact that their brand is co-owned by everyone.

Some could argue that this role isn’t suited for a CMO and perhaps focused on a Chief Digital Officer, or Chief Experience Officer. But the truth is we don’t need another “C” role at the top. Creating more silos is not the answer. Stop changing titles and adding more people, and let’s start admitting the role is simply changing.

Social has made everyone a potential evangelist. When you leverage the power of active social listening, you can find your best brand advocates, engage with them and enlist them, like celebrities, to spread the good word. When authentic people speak, people are more apt to listen, share, and buy. The real value exists in the next generation of brand evangelists: Find them, train them, mentor them and set them free.

KEY TAKEAWAY: The social gold rush is over. “Prospect” the smart way by integrating social into your people, processes and technology and humanize your business at every touch point.

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this. Please submit your take on this below and let’s strike up a conversation!