As we did in 2007, 2008 and 2009, CIC is once again is offering our IWOM Summit meetings with top executives from 25 different clients. For part of the 2010 summit, we will be reviewing the overall development of IWOM in China since we began CIC in 2004. We are also introducing some concepts that we are quite excited about. Here’s a rough outline of what we will be covering.
The IWOM Phenomenon in China
CIC has been pushing the concept of social media in China since 2004. In 2005, we coined and registered in China the term “Internet Word of Mouth” (IWOM). In our 2007 definition of IWOM, we wrote that we chose IWOM over “social media” because we believe that ‘buzz’ is more than just a media, it is also consumer insight and it is a ‘community’ in which stakeholders can participate. Since our coining of the term, we are proud and excited that since then, IWOM has become the standard in China to refer to ‘social media’ or ‘buzz,’ and it regularly appears in media articles, pitch documents and even others’ service and company names.
IWOM from the Netizen Perspective
Throughout the development of CIC and IWOM in China, we have closely observed the IWOM phenomena from the netizen perspective. In 2008, we proposed that the concept of the “Internet Community,” which suggests that consumers are not only ‘talking,’but also have ‘network’ and ‘organization’ to amplify voices and take action. We suggested that the Internet Community is fundamentally “transforming the relationship between brands and consumers” and we chronicled this in a series of white papers here, here, here and here.
IWOM from the Business Perspective
We have also been tracking IWOM from the business perspective. From 2004-2009, through our ‘front lines’ pioneering work with some of the best clients and agencies in the business, we witnessed the ‘battle’ of different agencies types and groups (i.e. PR, digital, media etc.) over ‘who owns IWOM’. We chronicled these discussions in our “IWOM summit” meeting summaries in 2007 and 2008; in 2009 we reviewed the history of businesses reaction and adoption of IWOM. In 2010, during our “Social Media 2.0” panel with Jeremiah Owyang, we concluded that in fact IWOM belongs to no one agency type, but is rather should be considered a strategic element of corporate planning.
The Times Are A’Changing
We believe the time has come to officially propose what we see is a necessary and significant shift in mindset. IWOM is not only changing communications via advertising, PR, marketing, sales, human resources, and customer service, it is changing business. These changes are beyond just ‘communications.’ For example, as we have chronicled many times over the years, sales is being impacted by the phenomenon of “group purchase.” Customer service is being impacted with the scale and pressure of IWOM is making it difficult for brands to develop an effective strategy or structure to respond to so many requests for help.
Compared to the changes brought about by the digital revolution, we believe the changes brought about what we are calling the social business revolution will be fundamentally greater.
Every business is a SOCIAL BUSINESS
IWOM’s transformation of the relationship between brands and consumers means that it has relevance across the entire organization. The fact that it impacts so many areas of the organization means that it should not be “siloed” in any one of them. It is not only that each function needs to adapt or be ‘socialized,’ but that the entire organization may need to be redesigned or at least ‘recalibrated’ to fully leverage IWOM and become a social business.
Social business: social business is an organization designed consciously around social tools, social media, and social networks, as a response to outgrowth of the web 2.0 technology space and its reshaped brand-consumer communication and business disciplines.
In short, every business needs to be a social business, one that is leverages the power of social interactions occurring inside and outside the organization.
Every Business Needs a SOCIAL BUSINESS SUPPORT SYSTEM
If every business needs to become a social business, every business needs the ‘software’ to enable that competency. Just as ERP systems enable more effective management of enterprise resources across the organization, and CRM systems enable more effective customer relationships management across the organization, a social business support system enables more effective use of social business intelligence across the organization.
Social business support system: an integration of tools and services that empower individuals, agencies, media and organizations at all levels to establish, develop and manage their own social business knowledge, applications and network inside and outside the organization.
CIC is well positioned to be leading provider of social business intelligence in China and we are building a first class social business support system to achieve this mission. In fact, we have been developing and applying the technology and services at the core of SBSS since 2004. We have successfully mapped IWOM solutions across scores of multinationals in China. We have an unmatched position and service brand in China and have core tools including IWOM discover, IWOM explorer and IWOM cooperator, tools which cannot only be used by multinationals, but also SME, agencies and even individual marketers. Our IWOMmaster is nicely wrapping up and being bolstered with different services and applications to serve the needs of multiple stakeholders for social business intelligence via a single system.
A Shared Vision…
CIC is not the first to discuss social business. Our ideas build on the ones put forward by our friends at Dachis Group which proposed the concept of social business and social business design a couple of years ago and there are a number of firms which are making a business in ‘social business software’. However, social business and the requirements of a s social business support system will be fundamentally different for different markets, especially the China market. The social media landscape is vastly different (and even more developed and complex), consumers use of social media is different, the needs of marketers and other business professionals are different and the organization structures and cultures are different. CIC is sitting ‘front row, center’ at the center of all of these in China and we are thrilled to be along for the ride.
As you can see, we have continually evolved our vision of what we do and the world we operate in and we will continue to do so. We welcome feedback from our clients and from our readers as well.