How to Adapt to the New World of Social Business

social media book reviewsThe consumer revolution is in progress. Do you know what part you play in it?

Do you realize that “digital Darwinism” (when society and technology evolve faster than a company’s ability to adapt) is a threat to each and every business (including yours)?

Whether you’re a marketer, a business professional or an entrepreneur, it is your job to figure out why consumers connect and how their social conversations influence your brand.

In his book, The End of Business as Usual, Brian Solis cautions that businesses that embrace and adapt to the revolution will survive the perpetual threat of digital Darwinism—and those that do not will die!

R.I.P., Blockbuster

Good examples of the effects of digital Darwinism are Blockbuster, Borders and Circuit City.

When Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy in 2010, analysts acknowledged that its predicament had more to do with the drastic shift in “how people watch video” than with their financial issues.

Blockbuster made the mistake of showing indifference to their customers’ collective experiences and refusing to adapt to their needs.

Meanwhile, Netflix was already embracing the culture of innovation and turning home video into a delightful experience. Best of all, there were no strings attached, no late fees or due dates.

The moral of the story is that when businesses underestimate the power of the connected consumer or mistakenly presume to have control of the brand, it’s only a matter of time before “the end of business as usual.”

Here’s what you should know about Brian Solis’ new book.

Author’s Purpose

brian solis

Brian Solis

Brian Solis wrote this book to demonstrate how our digital culture is changing the landscape of business, consumerism and the workplace, and what YOU should do about it.

He hopes that the insights you gain from his book will teach you how to embrace new media in order to become a more competitive, more successful business.

What to Expect

The End of Business as Usual is all about a new era of business. An era in which information (social media) has drastically changed the landscape, disrupted markets and put the connected consumer in charge. It is an era in which businesses must either “adapt or die!”

With 20 chapters (283 pages) of weighty concepts and projections (all supported by research, quotes, statistics, graphs and passionate arguments), it’s no surprise that the book gets a little intense at times. It should therefore be read in small, digestible chunks and with pen and paper handy.

You will be introduced to interesting concepts such as:

  • Social consumerism
  • The connected consumer
  • “Youthquake”—how the Millennial generation has become a powerful force of influence and consumerism
  • Your audience as an audience with audiences
  • The co-creation of brands
  • How digital influence creates a new “world order”
book cover

The End of Business as Usual.

Favorite Chapters

#1: Youth quake

This fascinating chapter talks about the Millennial generation (those born between mid-1970s and the late 1990s) and why they should matter to every brand.

According to a study done by Edelman Digital in February 2011, this generation has an incredibly high level of brand loyalty. Specifically:

  • 70% of Millennials feel that once they find a company or product they like, they will keep coming back
  • 58% are willing to share more personal information with trusted brands
  • 86% will share their brand preference online
  • Nearly 20% of Millennials attended a brand-sponsored event in the last 30 days
  • Of those who attended, 65% purchased the featured product

Beyond their growing influence as consumers, they are also assuming the role of self-ordained experts. Forty-seven percent of Millennials write about their positive experiences with companies and products online (on blogs and social media sites). On the flip side, 39% share negative experiences with their social networks as well.

The point is that no brand can afford to disregard the Millennial generation. They have money, they’re influential and they’re making decisions. The technology that is part of their DNA and their social network—even when they’re sleeping—is always within arm’s reach!

#2: An Audience With an Audience of Audiences

If you’ve ever presented at a live event, you’re probably acquainted with this audience. As you speak, you notice that their laptops, tablets and smartphones—originally intended for note-taking—are now being used as a portal to share experiences with their fans or followers. You look up hoping to catch their attention, only to see eyes dipped into their devices and the battle for eye contact is lost!

The audience of today is not the audience we think we know. Today’s audience has the ability to capture each moment through text, video, audio or still images and share them in real time with the hundreds or thousands of individuals in their social graphs.

crowd in library

Connected consumers interact with one another both online and offline. Image: iStockphoto

This is the connected consumer. He or she is connected with other people in vast networks that are rich with interaction. Indeed, the social graphs that connected consumers create are increasingly interconnected, resulting in audiences that also have audiences of their own.

The good news is that your message will go well beyond those in the room and possibly spark a global conversation that might continue to reverberate for weeks.

Side note: A good example of how connected consumers can quickly spread their message to a global audience is the Facebook page Israel Loves Iran. Within days of its creation in March 2012, the page drew a huge worldwide audience (currently over 60,000 fans) including the support of over 1000 Iranians and 10,000 Israelis.

#3: The Co-creation of Brands

In this new social landscape that we live in, the customer plays a critical role in the dilution or reinforcement of a brand’s identity. Each brand experience triggers an encounter that is rich with emotion. Updates, posts, tweets and other forms of self-expression become the platforms for these experiences.

The effects of these shared experiences on social media are extremely powerful. For example, here’s what one airline executive discovered in an online conversation where customers were talking about his brand:

This airline sucks. When I checked in, I was told, “I’m sorry, there’s nothing we can do about bumping you off this flight or losing your luggage.” Really? Well not only did you just lose a customer, I’m going to go out of my way to ensure that no one I know flies with you again.

When such experiences are shared on social networks and everywhere else (both online and offline), they act as guides for other consumers seeking input and direction from peers and experts.

So the pertinent question is not “Who owns the brand?” but rather “Who owns the customer relationship, or who owns the customer experience?” Therefore, as they set out to engage with consumers, brands should design experiences based on what they learn through customer sharing and customer reviews.

#4: Digital Influence and Social Capital

Influence is all the rage these days. Everybody is talking about it and services such as Klout, mBlast, Tweetlevel and so on, are busy measuring your level of digital influence based on your activity on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

By scoring influence, these services create a social hierarchy where you are ranked against other individuals based on your capacity to influence those who follow you. Social consumers receive a score based on what they do within social networks, who they know, and the activity that follows their interaction.

audi facebook page

On the old Audi Facebook page, the brand engaged with fans based on Klout scores.

Brands have taken an interest in this concept because it represents an opportunity to engage connected consumers who are beyond the reach of traditional media. They can use this information to influence the behavior of “desirable consumers.”

Consumers on the other hand see this as an opportunity to earn higher scores, gain status, power and recognition and also earn free products, promotions or deals.

Personal Impressions

The End of Business as Usual is a very intense book. I read it over a period of two weeks and I find that I will have to revisit it in order to really grasp some of the details.

A lot of the information you will read is relevant and immediately applicable to your business brand; for example, the whole idea of connected consumerism. But other parts of the book may not be applicable right away, especially if you’re a small business owner. An example is Chapter 18, which talks about business models and CRM.

Regardless, it’s a good idea to become familiar with these concepts and then make a mental note to refer back to them at a later date when they are more relevant to your business.

One thing that bothered me though was the idea that our “always-on” culture (i.e., the intense need to be constantly connected with one another through social media) will eventually invade and disrupt our homes, our family time and dinner conversations and will finally redefine “acceptable behavior.” Maybe I’m just not ready for this to happen.

Overall, this is a fascinating book, rich with new data and research, but sometimes it’s overwhelming because there’s just so much to learn. If you read it in small chunks, mark it up with notes and refer to it often, you will get a ton of value from it.

As usual, Brian Solis has done a great job and Social Media Examiner gives this book a 4.5 star rating.

What do you think? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

Image from iStockPhoto.

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About the Author, Patricia Redsicker

Patricia Redsicker writes research reviews for Social Media Examiner. She is the Social Media Manager at US Pharmacopeia, a public standards setting organization. Follow her on Twitter at @predsicker. Other posts by »




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  • Beth M. Wood

    Great post Patricia.  This is so true, and we see it in every industry – not just consumer brands, but B2B companies as well.  And I think the problem is not always that a brand/company refuses to acknowledge the drastic changes, or even that they think they “own the marketplace.” I have seen companies who acknowledge it, and want to keep up – they want to be able to offer the latest technology and stay top-of-mind with connected consumers BUT have a difficult time making their thoughts and ideas come to life.  Change is a two part process: the first being the realization and the second being acting on that realization.  Many companies struggle with the later.  Either due to a lack of budget, people, and/or time.  But the truth is that we can’t afford not to spend all three of these things to get up to speed, stay connected and continue to listen to consumers and bring them what they want and need.  Looking forward to reading the book – thanks!

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  • http://tweetphiladelphia.com/ Eric Van Buskirk

    Could Goog please roll out author ranking so we can put Klout to rest.  These silly sites that try to measure social graph are foolish.

  • http://www.rocketmedia.com/blog Bryce Propheter

    Thanks for the review, Patricia. Made a note to check this book out!

  • predsicker

    Thanks for your comment Beth. Change is a hard thing. And I think you hit the nail on the head regarding ‘making their thoughts and ideas come to life.’ I can tell you’re going to enjoy reading this book!

    All the best.

  • predsicker

    Eric, I am so with you on that :) Klout is fast becoming a very controversial system and I personally deleted my account recently. But I’m curious – why do you think Google would have a better solution?

  • predsicker

    You’re welcome Bryce. This book is a wise investment – I promise you :)

  • http://www.oncourss.com/ Shelley Montreuil

    Love the post! Going to check this book out for sure, thank you for taking the time to share!

    Shelley

  • http://www.maxminzer.com/ Max Minzer

    Started reading on Tuesday. Amazing book :D Need to read Brian’s “Engage” next.

  • Ed

    Great review, Patricia.  Thanks for stimulating us to stay on the leading edge in very dynamic and demanding times.

    What is our solution to this book and author?  Are they not using a media in imminent danger of extinction to prepare us for a situation that is already well into it’s process of obsolescence for the same?

    IMO, Social Media Examiner and other similar publications are a much better media for this communication than a book.  Of course, we are at a point where we need a reality check with “recipes” for the next few hours, days, etc.  Not so unlike the new ifttt.com that I have yet to use but sounds very, very practical.

    I apologize for the possible aggressive tone of this comment.  You can just mark it as the ignorance of a 70 year old   who lives in Latin America.

  • predsicker

    You’re welcome Shelly. Glad you enjoyed the review :)

  • predsicker

    Yes it is Max. I never got to read Engage either – it’s on my to do list :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/DavidNosker Dave Nosker

    Great post Patricia! I think one of the things I see too much of is people on the net selling their marketing strategies that are pinned down to a one way strategy that is not meant to handle change. I think that in order to adapt to the new world of social business one must first embrace that this is a constant evolving subject and everyone must be willing to handle change (and test new ideas) on a constant basis. 
     (Hope that made sense).. I will also be checking out the book :)

    – Dave

  • http://felixrelationshipmarketing.com/ Juan Felix

    Thanks Patricia for your very clear guidance into the intense and fascinating mind of Brian Solis. Someone who I admire a lot for his vision on how the social world is evolving. Where businesses of all sizes need flexibility to survive. Where people constantly need to revise their social skills to adapt to the increasingly  changing social world. Where online connections are the new social currency. Great post! :)

  • http://www.briansolis.com/ briansolis

    Patricia, thank you for doing the book proud. It’s clear you really dug in and you’re summary is more than well done. As you picked up…this is more than social media. In fact, I even say at the beginning, that this isn’t a book about social media. This is about disruptive technology and its impact on business and society. It comes down to change…and change isn’t easy. These are the times for new leaders to rise…many of which are reading your post. They need a guide to help them get break through the challenges they will face.

    p.s. The part about society becoming “always on” is true and certainly worthy of deeper study. But, you’re in good company. That’s basically the premise of Katie Couric’s foreword in the book!

  • http://tweetphiladelphia.com/ Eric Van Buskirk

    i”ve been pontificating on this for almost a year.  I wrote the “story” on this “klout is misleading” and it’s still one of the most trafficked peices on my site!

  • http://www.facebook.com/now4dw David Wilks

    Thanks for the review, Patricia.  I enjoyed it.  However, I was surprised by your comment about the inapplicability of Chapter 18 to small business.  If a small business has any intention of growing into a big one, they had better be paying close attention to their business model/s and CRM.

    @BrianSolis… I’ve used technology as a business tool since the mid-1970′s and have seen revolution after evolution after revolution.  Yet I remain astounded by the way my 7 and 10 year olds interact so intuitively with today’s tools.  It’s way past embracing – it’s almost cyborg absorption.  The future is theirs!

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  • http://www.wouterkleinsman.nl/ Wouter Kleinsman

    Great post Patricia! Today I was watching a video from Brian Solis where he was interviewed by Bryan Elliott. And I really like the combination of reading this post and the video. It’s all so clear that if company’s ain’t looking to where we are heading. They will be left aside. 

    I have the book from Brian already a few months .. but didn’t yet had the time to read it.
    But today I finally have enough time to start reading. Really excited!

    Brian Solis is doing a great job and if we are talking about Enchantment … then Brian & Guy are showing us how to do it! :)

  • http://www.wpsquare.com/ Bharat Chowdary

    Thanks for this article patricia, bookmarking this post…

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  • predsicker

    Thank you Dave. It totally makes sense. Although there will always be luddites among us ;) – you will love the book!

  • predsicker

    Yes I must agree with you – Brian Solis has a beautiful mind indeed. Thank you for your thoughtful feedback!

  • predsicker

    Thank you for your kind words Brian and even more for writing such a stunning book. I will tell you something else – The ‘Youthquake’ discussion was extremely fascinating and by far my favorite chapter. I will be devoting a tremendous amount of time in the coming months studying about millennial consumers. Your blog has great resources on this subject thank goodness so I will be seeing you there :)

  • predsicker

    Thank you for thoughtful comments David. 

    What I meant about chapter 18 is that it might not be immediately applicable to small businesses. In the context of what Brian is saying, the idea of CRM (and particularly social CRM) requires processes and technologies that a small business is not quite ready for. But of course you’re right – even they have to pay attention to these very important concepts.

  • predsicker

    Thanks for your feedback Wouter. I’m glad you’ll finally get a chance to read the book. And yes I agree, Guy and Brian are both very enchanting even in the midst of such intellectual discourse.

  • predsicker

    Thans Bharat – be sure to read the book too!

  • predsicker

    I would love to read this article. Would you please send it to me via Twitter? I am @predsicker. Thank you so much Eric!

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  • http://www.wouterkleinsman.nl/ Wouter Kleinsman

    You’re more then welcome Patricia.

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  • Eric Walters747

    Brian’s book touches on a topic that is gaining traction  in Australia, developed by a fellow in Brisbane (Queensland) – that is locally referred to as ‘collaborative consumerism’: the concept that devices and other equipment is not efficiently utilised by a single owner and so a ‘share’ or collaborative arrangement has been devised.
    Appreciate the summary of the topics as presented and will look out for a copy of Brian’s work.

    Eric Walters

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