Too often businesses lament the lack of immediate return on investment (ROI) in new media. ‘If we can’t monetize it, we shouldn’t do it’ is a common complaint. Yet, the reason companies must understand social processes and new media (as a part of the “social” landscape) isn’t because they will get a quick payoff. They won’t. “Social” processes such as new media are important to organizations because they involve engaging people based on their own tribal interests and needs, rather than treating people as a collection of “objects” that companies can sell to. Tribes are bound by common interests and “human” needs, and that doesn’t include your company’s revenue goals and corporate agenda.
As a result of human-centered engagement with the right tribes, companies can develop loyal fans that will help them create better products and services that those tribes are willing to pay for down the road. Why? Simply put, because those tribes are included in the social process of product innovation. This is one of the important tenets at the heart of The Hyper-Social Organization, a spot-on book by Francois Gossieaux and Ed Moran. New media is about increasing the participation of people in the organization’s activities, not about a quick ROI.
The reality is brands revolve around customers only to the extent that brands are relevant and meet human needs. The old-world marketing view of the brand as the center of the universe around which customers revolve is not only obsolete it never existed to begin with.
Social media shouldn’t be an add-on to marketing strategy that ignores the social element. Too often, new media is used as a “communication” vehicle after “product” and “company-centered” strategies are insularly crafted. That’s not what being a “social” entity is all about, say the authors. They are right. A social organization weaves the human element throughout everything they do – research, product innovation and co-creation, and communication. This approach starts with a belief that companies exist to serve human needs first, and it requires building a human presence through communities of shared interest.
The idea isn’t wholly new; however, it is disruptive because it requires a different way of thinking from ‘business as usual.’ It requires values that focus on people as independent from the brands they use, with identities that do not revolve around products.
According to the book, there are five key elements to implementing a “hyper-social” organization:
- It’s not about technology; think ‘communities’
- Scrap viewing consumers as “targets”; rather, think tribes of humans bound by common interests
- Forget company-centricity; embrace human-centricity and human needs
- Think information “network,” where information is shared freely for the good of the community rather than individual channels for corporate “communication”
- Embrace social messiness over hierarchy and process
Organizations need to change their models to fit with how humans actually interact, learn, and process information based on their own identities, rather than trying to force their “products” on contrived “target markets.” How military is our marketing jargon today? That’s no accident; military analogies pervade our language because business is seen as war, rather than as a way of helping humans meet needs. As the authors exhort, by embracing hyper-sociality, and all the messiness that comes with a focus on “people,” organizations can find greater success in the “social” landscape.