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18/07/2012 by

Social Business Plan: From Junior To Social Guru

A Social business is a people-oriented organization that collaborates with stakeholders to create value within its own network and the digital ecosystem, ultimately creating greater profit itself. This means that customer interaction in social business is the property of everyone in the organization.

Social Business Plan: From Junior To Social Guru

In reality, many organizations have yet to adopt extensive social media as a means to contribute to the company objectives. This can be seen in the “Social Media Update 2012” by Jungle Minds, which will soon be published on Dutch blog Frankwatching.

This study (n = 436) shows that 55% of the organizations in the Netherlands fall under the category “Social Junior” (see our Social Readiness Model below). Only 1% is a “Social Guru” representing a social business.

Click to enlarge - Social Readiness Model by Jungleminds

Intermediary-based insurers often fall under the category of “Social Junior”. They have a product-oriented business mentality and are still very immature in their organization of social media activities. The “sense of urgency” is high.

They have to connect with the advisors and end customer to develop valuable relationships since very little sustainable competitive advantage can be achieved with the generic insurance product alone.

As a practical approach for this article, I sketch a fictitious insurance organization called “JM Insurance”, which would like to involve its customers and advisors more in company operations.

The fictitious case is based on our experiences at various organizations. The “Strength of the Network” is the driving force behind social business.

Based on this and the “JM Insurance” case, I have formulated 20 tips to change the direction of a social business called the “Social Guru”. Of course, “Social Guru” is not always the highest goal an organization should pursue.

After all, it is ambitious and the way there is different for everyone, depending on the company objectives and culture.

1. Identify opportunities by listening

Start by collecting insights into the opportunities for the organization. What are the networks in which the target group participates? Which interactions are worthy of conversation? What are the market developments? When are people engaged with the brand?

“Our marketing department has identified many opportunities by listening on social networks. We also literally sat around the table with customers. Among other things, we learned that there is a need to access the forum in the private environment after the log-in. We now offer webcare during weekends as well since many people arrange their insurance at that time.”

Marketing Director of “JM Insurance”

2. Determine social readiness

Then determine the organization’s social readiness based on Jungle Minds’ Social Readiness Model

“Our marketing and corporate communication departments started with social media and they have jointly implemented the social readiness scan. As a result, we are a “Social Junior”, since some social activities in the organization are already centrally arranged such as monitoring discussions online, but we have very little targeted interaction with customers in order to improve our service.”


3. Define social vision and objectives

The social vision is derived from the opportunities that have been identified, the social readiness level and the company objectives. To be successful, the social vision and social objectives – innovation, branding, sales, etc. – should be drawn up with top management to create involvement from above.

“We would like to be the most accessible and service-oriented insurer for all our customers and advisors. Service innovation and the retention of existing customers are the most important social objectives in achieving our vision.”


Marketing Social Media

4. Draft a social action plan

The next step starts with redefining the identity; if you want to be customer-oriented, you have to be customer-oriented yourself. Establish the company culture and the extent to which it is customer-oriented, transparent and authentic.

For example, having a Facebook page does not mean that an organization is customer-oriented. Define the “gap” between the organization’s current identity and its desired identity to achieve the social vision. Draft a targeted social action plan to gradually close this gap.

“Yes, we always saw the advisor as a customer. Two years ago, an end customer suddenly appeared at our head office; we had no idea what to do. Our culture is very focused on product and process; we are still a long way from achieving people-oriented thinking and doing.”


5. Put together a social SWAT team

Create a centralized Social SWAT team (hub-and-spoke model) that is responsible for putting the “customer-oriented thinking and action” in the DNA of the entire organization. It is a multidisciplinary team that works beyond organizational departments to implement the action plan.

The social SWAT team affects the entire organization. They devise policy, optimize the required processes and systems, provide training and give presentations on social best practices.

“We recently established a Social SWAT team and made them all responsible for carrying out the social vision and objectives and creating internal ambassadors. It is truly an enthusiastic, energetic team that is convinced of our vision and understands exactly the role that social media can play for our company.”


6. Experiment with projects immediately

Have the Social SWAT team start immediately with social projects, such as a poll on Facebook or LinkedIn, to motivate employees and show quick results of the positive effect of greater transparency and customer-oriented thinking.

“It is vitally important to share success stories in the organization. Our marketing team recently showed a couple of wonderful examples of how they acquired tips from the community for the concrete improvement of optimization of our service.”


7. Give internal training

Organize social media training for top management and all employees who have customer contact. The result should be that top management stimulates employees to start thinking about how to involve the customer in daily activities.

“Employees thought it would be useful to have customers write reviews about our products and services on our site. We thought this would be very suspenseful, but we have now implemented it for home and car insurance. Now, customers can also apply on Facebook for a quote for travel insurance.”


8. Give employees access to social media

A basic requirement is that everyone in the organization has access to internal and external social media tools such as Yammer, Twitter and Facebook.

“Of course there is absolutely no point in having our social media training if employees are unable to use social media. It was a major change for many people since some employees made very little use of social media in their private lives.”


Share Knowledge

9. Facilitate knowledge sharing internally

Set up an employee community to stimulate a culture of knowledge sharing and cooperation across departments and countries.

“It is unbelievable how much knowledge we have. Since we set up the internal community we see that employees who never had any contact can now find each other. Many new ideas have developed and job satisfaction has been enhanced.”


10. Stimulate internal ambassadors

Stimulate “internal” ambassadors from various departments to blog to create stimulating content for internal and external use. Content is a means to bind people to the brand, but do not use overkill.

The condition is that the CEO is also one of these internal ambassadors and strongly identifies himself with the transparent, customer-oriented company culture.

“We now have two employees from the marketing department who regularly blog on our intranet about prevention measures. In the future, we would like to see 30 employees blogging on a regular basis; of course everything needs to be reviewed by an editor. I now write a piece every week and I really enjoy it! I see that I also make other employees enthusiastic.”

CEO of “JM Insurance”

11. Provide mobility

Mobilize the employees with devices to ensure that they are “connected” everywhere. They can now find each other quickly and easily and cooperate effectively.

“In the future we would like to create even more flexi-desks, but then it is important that employees are always ‘connected’ so they can work together effectively and efficiently.”


12. Revise the remuneration structure

Steer employees based on the contribution to the social objectives so they change their behavior to achieve greater customer satisfaction, innovation and loyalty. After all, customer interaction is owned by everyone in the organization.

“Our social vision requires different CPIs so that employees truly behave differently. Everyone is now responsible for customer satisfaction. Each month, the Social SWAT team nominates someone as ‘Social Guru’; this motivates others to interact with the customer as well.”


13. Define the role of social media

Based on the needs and behavior of the customers and objectives, define which social media – Google +, Twitter, Facebook etc. – are the most suitable for entering into a dialogue with customers and “engaging” them.

Making the right choices in the use of social media can provide substantial benefit for an organization. Make the social media accessible on the website as well by making it available on various relevant pages.

“Pinterest is hot, but we do not yet believe that this platform contributes to our objectives. Twitter works really well for quick contact with our advisors. We use Facebook to continuously gather opinions from our younger target group, among other things.

And naturally, Google + is good for greater visibility in search results. Our social media manager Carlijne is responsible for all external platforms. And our developer Hans has recently integrated the reviews of Independer on our website.”


14. Keep talking

Have employees from various departments converse daily on their own website and via social networks to acquire deeper insights into customer needs and build customer relationships.

“We listen everywhere — on our forum, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and external blogs. And more and more employees are talking to determine the customer’s real needs. After all, our employees are partly responsible for customer satisfaction and through interaction, they gain insight into what we have to do to keep our customers.”


15. Monitor and involve external ambassadors

Based on listening and discussions, determine who the ambassadors and experts are and specifically monitor and involve this group.

“The marketers from our SWAT team continuously follow10 ambassadors of our brand and 15 experts from the insurance sector. It is interesting to see what opportunities we identify to improve our service. We also use these ambassadors to launch new services. They may be the first to test them and blog about them.”


16. Facilitate meetings among customers

Go a step further by facilitating relevant meetings among customers. Organize a forum that is also accessible on the move of course, where customers and advisors can directly help each other with service queries, such as with telecom provider GiffGaff.

Stimulate employee involvement by rewarding them with gamification elements  for interaction. For example, writing a review is worth 3 points, solving a customer query is worth 5 points. The points give a specific reward as status “Super reviewer of the month” or a free service “you now receive 1 hour free consultancy from an advisor”.

“Our customers and advisors jointly have a lot of in-house knowledge. On our website, customers can ask questions and help others solve queries. In turn, the interaction created here gives us interesting insights. Our community managers Barbra and Rafael monitor the quality of the interactions.”


17. Engage in structural cooperation with the customer

Involve customers and advisors in the co-creation of new products and services. Make them co-producers. For example, organize (closed) communities on the website to engage in structural cooperation with a select group of external ambassadors. The purpose is to develop innovation service and retention concepts with the ultimate goal of achieving more satisfied customers as well as employees.

“We would like to continuously improve our service and we are collecting online a diversity of employees and external ambassadors to achieve this. We have been successful, since use of the forum via our mobile site has greatly improved.”


18. Optimize processes

Organize processes to distribute the insights from listening and conversing with customers and advisors to the right places in the organization to achieve improvements.

“People complained about erroneous texts on our HR page on Facebook and Twitter. Our monitoring team immediately identified this and passed it on to our HR manager. He then solved it within two days and informed the social media manager to place a message on Facebook that it had been solved.”



19. Have technology in order

In order to be able to do something with the insights from listening and engaging in conversation, an integrated approach is needed. Aside from demographic and transactional data, the customers’ social behavior is also collected (social CRM).

“We are now working on collecting more and more internal and external data to acquire more customer insights in the future, make predictions and serve our customers and intermediaries with quick, tailor-made service.”


20. Quantify and improve

Provide a “meet and improve mentality”. Often, the costs of social media are known, but the benefits are not. Social ROI, the contribution of the social media efforts on company objectives is very important to quantify in order to justify budgets and acquire resources.

The strategy directory is a means to link social objectives to the operational and financial metrics and objectives. Important social success factors include: economic benefits and savings, stakeholder satisfaction, new relevant customers, interaction and employee retention and knowledge level. Bring the strategy directory to life by visualizing the CPIs in a dashboard.

“The dashboard always brings about interesting discussions and helps us to make quick decisions.”



This guest article was written by Marijke van Moll, digital strategy consultant at Jungle Minds. Jungle Minds is a specialist in digital marketing research, concept & design and strategy based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Please visit our website (which will be soon available in English as well). Marijke has worked on various digital and social business projects for insurance, banking and retail companies. She will be happy to help you  with your digital challenges. You can email her at  [email protected]


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