The birth of the social business expectation: a look back and a farewell

Photo courtesy mrbillt6 via Flickr

In 2008, when my colleague Heidi Sullivan and I kicked off the new CisionBlog, a survey of PR professionals found that only half were reaching out to bloggers (in a study this year, four in five said they do blogger outreach). In 2008, Facebook had barely eclipsed MySpace and was still largely the province of college students. Receiving your entire Twitter feed as a series of text messages was considered perfectly reasonable behavior.

When I think about how technology has reshaped PR, marketing, media and the social Web over the past few years, it’s been a dizzying array of adaptations and innovations. To me, what drives this evolution is both positive and inspiring. You might call it the social business expectation.

The social business expectation first presented itself when we began to expect brands to fess up and apologize earnestly each time an employee tweets a sarcastic response to an angry customer, or a company’s workers are caught doing unseemly things with cheese in a YouTube video. But it’s much more than that.

It’s a broad expectation of candor, openness and participation. This reaches way beyond the necessity for a brand to maintain an active, conversational Twitter presence. It manifests itself in customers who have come to expect organizations to be responsive and open, allowing access to all sorts of data on demand: their own billing info and account records, public government datasets, and most of all, communication. That’s one reason I’m proud to have helped launch Seek or Shout, Cision’s open community for PR pros, journalists and bloggers.

Customers aren’t the only ones who expect brands to behave socially and openly; employees do too. Knowledge management has evolved tremendously inside of companies as we begin to use internal social platforms to find answers faster and set information free from the aptly named “email chain”. There’s no reason why crowdsourcing across teams shouldn’t be as easy as posting a Facebook status update. Having access to communities, wikis and other social knowledge sharing tools has become an expectation of a better-connected workforce.

As customers, as employees and as people we all benefit from our collective expectation for responsiveness and open information. To be sure, each of the major social platforms–Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus–has its shortcomings, and our digitally saturated culture has its side effects. (In the words of Google chairman Eric Schmidt, ”Take your eyes off that screen and look into the eyes of the person you love. Have a conversation, a real conversation.”) Still, the net effect of all this change is great for professional communicators. That’s because communicators are using these tools to do their jobs better than ever before.

This is my last post for CisionBlog. I’m relocating to Cision’s London office to oversee our media research operations there. Don’t worry, dear blog readers, I am leaving you in the hands of some very insightful and excellent bloggers! Thanks for reading and please keep the conversation going here.

 

 



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