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The Social Business Process

Posted by on November 20, 2009

Over at Chess Media Group we’ve brainstorming steps that companies and consultancies need to take together in order to really be able to create a social business.  We’ve developed what we consider to be a pretty solid social business process that is broken down into three key areas: strategy, creativity, and results.  The steps we have outline are obviously not set in stone but they should serve as a good foundation or framework for most organizations.  Here is what we developed:

social business process

I’ve broken down all of the ten steps into high level bullet points to make them easy to understand.  Of course this process is adaptable and will most likely continue to change as we move forward with more companies adopting social business tools and strategies.  For now, this should serve as a basic foundation or framework for companies that want to get involved in social business by working with Chess Media Group.


Organization discovery

  • Review and analyze marketing business plan (when needed)
  • Interview employees to understand perceived risks, challenges, and opportunities
  • Analyze existing social media presence and activity
  • Understand how business functions and operates internally and externally

Audit and analyze existing data and analytics

  • Look at what analytics tools are currently being used and analyze what we need and want to collect.
  • Examine business intelligence data and customer information

Define financial (ROI) and non-financial (impact) business objectives and metrics

  • Define objectives that are going to impact the bottom line and what metrics are going to be used to determine success
  • Define objectives that are not going to impact the bottom line (but that will impact the business) and what metrics are going to be used to determine success.


Identify business and technology barriers and opportunities

  • Identify business and technology barriers that keep the company from moving forward with social business strategy implementation
  • Identify social business opportunities from a corporate business and technology standpoint

Develop business and technology solutions

  • Develop business and technology solutions to capture opportunities and overcome barriers

Map and integrate solutions into business functions

  • Integrate various social business strategies into various business functions and departments such as marketing, PR, and customer service
  • Develop customized approach and process for each department that enables them to work together


Monitor process and analyze new data

  • Examine implementation process to make sure everything is going smoothly on business and technology side
  • Look at new data collected from internal business units and external facing initiatives and conversations

Calculate ROI and impact

  • Compare new data to old data collected at beginning of process
  • No time line attached to process so we look at ROI and impact on a quarterly basis but you should start seeing things move in the right direction

Insight delivery

  • Comprehensive report analyzing and reviewing all work done up to this point
  • Explores future ideas and strategies and provides guidance and recommendations

Adapt and revise

  • Adapt work that has been done and try to improve
  • Integrate new tools, strategies, ideas, and software solutions

So there you have you, our full social business process broken down and explained.  Would love to hear your ideas and comments.

  • Jacob,

    Curious about the lack of audience or target focus on the social business model. Organization discovery seems to be internally focused. Was that a conscious omission or is it baked into the discovery process?

    While intensely studying the internal dynamics of a company is crucial to the success of the endeavor, I've found, particularly when setting social strategy, that audience segmentation around needs, technology used, geography, demographics, etc is essential to focusing the outbound communication efforts.

    • Hi Matt,

      Organization discovery is also focused on external intelligence. I should been more clear in the bullets so thanks for pointing that out, but yes absolutely there is definitely research done externally. On a side note, I just signed up for your platform, curious to see it/demo it, have any more info on it?

  • Great post, Jacob. I would add two small additions that speak to EQ rather than IQ or data. More often than not a brand's reticence to embrace social media is a gut reaction, a reluctance born of years of habit and corresponding comfort level. So in addressing that area i think, particularly right now, there needs to be an intermediary steps that addresses why and how a brand needs social media.

    Secondly, regarding the creative phrase, and equally obtuse as my first addition, is the need to recognize the role of the same gut check when it comes to determining the right creative strategy for a brand. Advertising in any form has always ultimately boiled down to one person's opinion as the what an audience my respond to that is then sold through the marketing agency to the client. And that is always an inexact science. So I think there is the same role for a 30,000 ft gut check on creative strategy for social media as well.

    With so much skepticism towards social media the drive for ROI and data is so understandable. But ye olde gut check will always play a role as every communication boils down to one person talking to another.

    Thanks for the great post, Simon Mainwaring

    • michellefitzgerald

      1. Great article!

      2. Agree with many of the comments above and would only add/reinforce .. you simply cannot have a social strategy w/o first taking inventory of external forces/competitive comparisons. You might elaborate a bit on that? And do the strategy elements change considerably, from your POV, by industry type, etc?

      3. Love the susinct guidance points. Do you have any follow-up thoughts on specific tools/resources to putting this approach in action? That's an item I personally strive to button up for a the SMB sector. They love/need stratgic planning advise PLUS “now how do I get started on a shoe-string budget?”. If you're interested in elaborating on that, check out my recent ebook Get Scrappy: A (Small) Business Owner's Guide to Marketing on Less.

      I'll be doing a follow-up in early 2010 with case studies and am looking for collaborators on various topics, including social media.

      Michelle Fitzgerald

      • Thanks, Michelle, for your feedback. Yes, external forces or a cultural map of that moment is key both in terms of identifying what your customers want or need but also trends for the future. Hopefully there's a planner or equivalent in house that can help with that. They can identify what forces are playing on specific industry because yes, they do vary. The answer is always immersion, though, deep diving into an industry and its customers to get a gut check sense of where they are. As for tools, your best bet is partnering with someone who specializes in this area, whether they are planners, an ad agency or freelancers. It's an inexact science at best but so necessary to capture that intangible quality of heart to heart communication. Hope that helps and I'll check out your ebook now. Thanks, Simon

        • michellefitzgerald

          Thanks, Simon.

          Completely agree, though find it challenging to translate the above (re: the need to identify planners/ad agencies to perform due diligence on assessing target audiences, competitive outliers, etc) when many SMBs rely on a small team and small budget to apply recommended approaches, as laid out in the original post. The exercise with writing Get Scrappy has utterly altered my mindset on how/what we recommend as “big school” marketers if it can't be easily transmitted to organizations of various sizes and shapes. But a convo for another time, offline from here… 🙂

          And Jacob – look forward to seeing/hearing more from you/team on the subject!


          • Thanks Michelle and that tension between big and small companies is very real. Happy to chat anytime. Best, Simon

          • michellefitzgerald

            Most definitely…just let me know what your preferred method of chat-time is. I can be reached on LinkedIn, Facebook, or email ( Look forward to hearing your POV and how you're tackling this subject in your work.


      • Hi Michelle,

        Of course, we definitely have to look at external forces such as what is already being said about the brand, the competition, etc. That all comes into play. I'm going to talk a bit more on tool and resources in upcoming posts but it's not really possible to narrow it down into a tool/resource set. I think the best that can be done at this point is create the social business process and then work with companies to drill down from there. Thanks for the comment!

    • Thanks Simon, always great to hear from you. You make good points and I should have explained them in the process but they definitely need to be addressed. Why and how a brands needs social media is something discussed in the organization discovery phase and should be the underlying theme for the rest of the process. Creative strategy is also important but that's where we would work with any type of creative team that a client has. We can always work with contractors on developing creative strategies but it's not our core focus, we stick to the business strategy and leave the creative work to folks such as yourself 🙂

  • Joe

    Dmattcarter and Simon Mainwaring make excellent points below. I also read your response to Dmattcarter's feedback.

    You state that this process has been developed “In order to really be able to create a social business.”

    What's a “social business?” I urge caution in developing a strategy that is focused on helping your clients become “a social business.” This sounds similar to a focus that consultants had in the mid- to late-'90s when they sought to help their clients become “e-businesses.” What these consultants ignored or did not realize was the the “e-” (the Internet) was essentially a means to help them achieve their business goals; it was not the end-state. How many e-business strategies do you still hear being talked about today? Likewise, becoming a social or perhaps more appropriately, a collaborative business, is a means to achieving a business' goals.

    Is “becoming a social business” really focused on how a business interacts and collaborates with its customers and partners as well as how it communicates within the business? I respectfully submit that that answer to this question is yes. If you and the Chess Media Group concur, are you then looking at how to improve communications and relationship management as enablers to achieving business goals?

    It may be embedded in “Organization Discovery” but I recommend that, similar to calling out an external/marketplace focus, your process should also include a specific activity that is focused on identifying what customer relationship communication strategies are currently in place and are those strategies and actions having the desired effect. If not, why not? This analysis should help frame the client's “As Is” environment.

    “Develop business and technology solutions,” per your process, can also be thought of as the “To Be” environment. Consider calling attention in your process to the development of a “Transition Plan” to get from the “As Is” to the “To Be” environment. You're likely to find that the “Transition Plan” may involve a number of process, organization (change management and governance), and technology actions. A component of the “Transition Plan” should be a Business Value Assessment (BVA) that's essentially a cost-benefit-risk analysis of the actions needed to get to the “To Be” state. Benefits should be both quantitative and qualitative and measurable.

    You've got “Define financial (ROI) and non-financial (impact) business objectives and metrics” and “Calculate ROI and impact” as the third and eighth respective activities in your process. You should consider combining these and making this new combined activity the new 6th activity. This is your BVA. The BVA should be viewed as a life-cycle model that becomes a means of determining if projected benefits are in fact being realized, actual costs are in line with projected costs, and projected risks are being mitigated per identified risk mitigation actions. This is where strategies become meaningful and tangible.

    I very much like your “Adapt and Revise” activity. Establishing feedback loops is critical to the success of any strategy. The key enabler here will be the governance model that I referenced in the development of the “Transition Plan.” How is feedback, in terms of data and information, captured and communicated? Who is it communicated to and how is it communicated? How are decisions going to be made based on this feedback?

    Best wishes for success as you and the Chess Media Group move forward with this!

  • michellefitzgerald

    Most definitely…just let me know what your preferred method of chat-time is. I can be reached on LinkedIn, Facebook, or email ( Look forward to hearing your POV and how you're tackling this subject in your work.


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