If there are still any lingering doubts about the increasingly central role that “social” is playing in today’s business and marketing worlds, I would point to the constant stream of statistics that underscore the growing trend:
- An estimated 93 percent of marketers are engaged to some extent in social media marketing (Source: BtoB Magazine)
- 71 percent of U.S. web users have Facebook accounts (Source iStrategy Labs)
- Some 43 percent of users will “like” a brand on Facebook, and there is at least a 17 percent likelihood of purchase (Source: MarketingProfs)
- On Twitter, 25 percent of users will follow a specific brand, and 67 percent of those followers will purchase from that brand (Source: DigitalSurgeons)
- In the second quarter of this year, LinkedIn members grew to 115.8 million, an increase of 61 percent from the same quarter of 2010. In the same time period, LinkedIn’s revenue was $121 million, an increase of 120 percent from a year ago (Source: LinkedIn August 4, 2011 second quarter earnings release, its first as a public company)
The fact is – “social” has become inextricably linked to business. Nowhere is this more evident than in what is arguably the primary role of the business enterprise: Creating, managing, and accelerating revenue growth.
The key social principles of connectivity, openness, and engagement are also core to Revenue Performance Management (RPM), the powerful new business strategy and process that is reinventing sales and marketing on a global scale. Indeed, RPM was founded on a fundamentally social approach to optimizing the interactions with buyers across the entire Revenue Cycle.
Dreamforce 2011 Heralds the “Social Enterprise”™
I have been thinking a lot about the growing social dimension in business and marketing as my organization has been getting ready for salesforce.com’s Dreamforce 2011 event, which kicks off today at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Probably not surprisingly, this year’s Dreamforce is built on the theme of the “social enterprise,” a term coined by salesforce.com to reflect this growing trend.
The Dreamforce promotional message underscores the importance of this major business shift to social:
“There’s a post-PC revolution underway, and your customers have moved to a world that’s entirely social, mobile, and open. Has your company?”
That is an excellent question. It’s one that I have asked a lot on this blog. As I have argued here many times before, buyers today are on a very different journey. Largely because of social media, consumers are arming themselves with the information, advice, and intelligence they need to make informed purchasing decisions. And, they are doing so long before they ever even think about engaging the company or its sales people. According to SiriusDecisions, “70 percent of the buyer’s journey is complete before they ever contact sales.” (Source: Convince & Convert Blog, 6/15/11).
This social-empowered buyer is more in control than has ever been the case before in business history. Given the social media “ethos” of openness and transparency, we can expect this trend to continue moving in the buyers’ direction in the years to come, even in relation to revenue performance management.
There’s no question: by emphasizing the “social enterprise” this year, salesforce.com is highlighting a critical imperative for business competitiveness and success. The timing couldn’t be more appropriate or strategic for the 40,000 registered attendees who are looking for new ideas to catalyze winning opportunities.
‘Social Business’ Requires More Intelligent Tools and Decisions
Building on this “social business” conversation, I would include the importance of employing more “social intelligence” in the corporation. In an article earlier this year on Digiday, Rob Key, CEO/Founder of social media agency Converseon, defined social intelligence as the following:
“Social intelligence then is not only about capturing this vast conversation, but unearthing deep meaning and insights that can meet the myriad – and proliferating – uses across organizations. This is about finding the ideas that change organizations and products.”
The real game changer here is to adopt more intelligent revenue performance management systems that enable you to think of marketing programs not just as spending, but as investments in revenue growth. Of course, if you’re going to make investments, you need to have the ability to track, measure, and report on ROI. You need to be able to think through and identify what is going to pay back, and what won’t.
It’s very much akin to making financial investments. Your certainly would not manage your money based on hopes and dreams (or at least you shouldn’t!). Just as you need a constant flow of intelligent information to manage your finances, the same is true with effectively managing your revenue programs. In light of the recent wild gyrations of the global financial markets, the need for intelligently guiding financial decisions is not just an intellectual exercise.
At this year’s Dreamforce event, we will be joining with our salesforce.com colleagues, and all of our incredible customers and partners in attendance, to advocate the shift to “social enterprise.”
We will also be making the strong case that by adopting Revenue Performance Management, corporations can leverage the most advanced social strategies to generate outsized revenue growth and profitable results.
Even more exciting, they will be well on their way to inciting their own Revenue Revolution.