Six brilliant things social businesses and brands do

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Image: an excerpt from Strories, Numbers & Conversations. 

So, this week my company, Brilliant Noise, published its first paper: Stories, Numbers & Conversations: Nokia’s principles for social media.

It may sound strange to say about a strategy paper, but it was a labour of love, and Endless Studios did a great job on making it look beautiful too.

During our work with Nokia, we had the opportunity to revisit some of our favourite case studies of businesses that were using social media, as well as taking a look at some new ones.

These included both companies we admired from afar – such as Dell, Starbucks, Nike, Ford, Zappos and Burberry – as well as some of the companies the Brilliant Noise team had worked with on social media projects personally in previous agency lives, such as Porsche, Marks & Spencer and Coca-Cola.

Given the luxury of having time to sit back and see these stories in the round, the natural question was: what do they have in common? Do their approaches, behaviours and attitudes to  social media strategy that helped them go further fastest?

The six themes that emerged for us have since been very influential on all our work with all of our clients at Brilliant Noise.

They have been discussed in meetings and conferences several times since then, but with the publication of  Stories, Numbers & Conversations, it seems like a good time to set them out here…

  1. Leadership: Is there a senior sponsor or leader within the organisation who is committed to radical transformation in response to the industry’s disruption? It is notable that many digital strategies have been part of corporate fight-backs, for instance Howard Schulz at Starbucks, Michael Dell at Dell and Angela Ahrendts at Burberry.
  2. Values and vision: The clearer the company is about its purpose, and what it thinks is the right way to pursue it, the easier it is to translate its approach into social media.
  3. Principles-led social:Developing a clear set of principles for digital and communicating them universally will give licence to the boldest and most innovative people in the company to spark new ideas and change.
  4. Pilot and scale projects: The will to try things out and the sense to take successes and scale them, make them repeatable practices and business processes.
  5. Governance and frameworks: To make change stick, there need to be strong processes in place. Developing an organisation-wide governance process for digital and innovation will break down divisions that could slow or stop change.
  6. Literacy: Spreading new digital skills, such as the effective use of social computing tools, helps spread change faster and gives more people in the organisation a deep understanding of the changes and opportunities.
Sometimes I am tempted to make it “seven brilliant things” add in one of Nokia’s principles – “Invest and commit to social presences” – as a successful trait, but hesitate as perhaps that is implicit in the others.
Anyway, let me know what you think – any to add, for instance?

: : You can download Stories, Numbers & Conversations: Nokia’s principles for social media marketing for free. On Friday, September 7th, Brilliant Noise will be hosting a webinar  about the paper, hosted by me, with Craig Hepburn, Nokia’s Director, Digital and Social Media. You can sign up for a place on the webinars on the same page.