One of our colleagues in South Africa, Mike Saunders, is a leading expert in digital media and the emerging world of social business. To explain what he means by this, he wrote an excellent blog entry which we’re thrilled to syndicate here.

When you drop a mentos mint into a bottle of Diet Coke the rough edges of the Mentos are filled with Diet Coke and a chemical reaction takes place producing CO2 . The CO2 causes the Diet Coke to fizz more than usual and the liquid is forced through the funnel shape at the top of the bottle. The funnel then creates additional pressure and the liquid explodes out of the spout of the Diet Coke bottle.

The end result? A huge mess!!

The interesting thing is that two scientists/entertainers have found a way to harness the power of Diet Coke and Mentos to create a Rocket Car powered only by Diet Coke and Mentos.

Granted the car only went 222 feet but this is still a remarkable transition from a ‘mess’ to a form of ‘transportation’.

I want to use this illustration to draw a parallel between social media and business.

Think about replacing the Mentos with social media and the Diet Coke is the industry that you operate in.

Social media has already been ‘dropped’ into your industry. This has created cases for concern as well as opportunities that never existed before.

It seems that some businesses that adopt social media seem to end in a mess. We think about examples like Nestle’s PR nightmare, GAP’s rebranding and Woolworths decision to remove Christian magazines from their shelves. These business adopted the use of social media without a clear understanding of how social media and more specifically the new business communication shift affects their industry and consumers.

These businesses have learnt the hard way that social media represents a communication shift that expects their business practices to involve the customer more, take the customer seriously and respond to external customer pressure with a clear and direct message. In essence these businesses are learning to deal with a new and more transparent communication style that holds business accountable to the customer by the customer.

There are plenty of examples out their where businesses have leveraged the power of social media to affect good change in their industry and win the vote of the customer.

Pepsi successfully leveraged social media to it’s advantage during the 2010 World Cup, and South Africa were branded a vibrant, joyous and courful nation as it’s visitors kicked up a social media storm about the #vuvuzela! Pepsi’s example was more calculated and strategic than the South Africa example but the positive impact was felt around the world. In these cases, social media and business were able to combine it’s forces and build a rocket car of success.

However, social media success is going beyond marketing to consumers and is starting to show more value in new industries. In each industry, social media technology open up the opportunity to create new competitive advantages and change the way that the industry operates.

A few new competitive advantages that have been sighted by at TomorrowToday are:

1) Social Media allows recruitment industries to actively headhunt new talent. The new competitive advantage will be for agencies to harness social media to allow them to find and approach hot new talent. This is a sharp comparison to the current competitive advantage of building databases through the internet and other technologies of a wide variety of talent.

2) coupled with the recruitment industry shift, career management is changing. The new competitive advantage will be to have a current and active social media presence that promotes your value as an employee. This type of personal branding will become imperative for career management as agencies shift towards their new competitive advantage.

3) project management will experience shifts towards harnessing crowd sourcing technologies both internally and externally to solve problems, manage projects, get things done and manage people.

4) training and leadership development will shift towards online systems that bring social interaction into the online learning environment. People will be able to engage each other in conversation, both in their own time and in real time engagements. They will be able to argue their stand points and grapple with the subject content they are learning. This type of social interaction always helps people come to grips with their learning in a more tangible manner. Social learning platforms can also adopt standard social technology practices that pay toward peoples personal brand and ego. Using ramification techniques will help to create a competitive environment online which works well to increase participation and improve results.

At TomorrowToday we believe that social reinvention is an important part of future-proofing your business. It has become an imperative that business executive and department heads start to seriously consider the impact that social media and digital technology will have on their business.

If you would like to raise this topic at your next conference please contact us to book Mike Saunders and his presentation Social Reinvention.

TomorrowToday Global