Is Social Business Taking Off?

When I started at my previous company, Twinfield, social media at that time was just picking up. Although I was present in Twitter as of 2007 at that moment it was not used by many, especially in the traditional industry of accountants. My current employer, Exact, was one of the main competitors and we knew that their marketing budgets were very much over exceeding ours at that time. So we had to do something else in order to get attention in the market place. I think we managed to, when I joined the company market value was around 10 million Euro’s. Three years later the company was sold to Wolters Kluwer with a market value that more than tripled. It made no sense to go head to head with Exact Online, we had to be disruptive so we heavily embraced social media at that time.

Social media for accountants

We positioned ourselves as the front runners in the accountancy industry showing how social media could impact their business, because for the reason their clients were embracing it already. Change of behavior and the way clients expect to have interaction with their suppliers was one of the main drivers in our opinion. It really set us apart, especially in the traditional industry of accountants. So we got attention and supported by a partner program we were really gaining traction around the topic social media. We were seen as the thought leader and giving lots of workshops, seminars and sessions to help accountants making that next step.We were seen as the thought leader and were giving lots of workshops, seminars and sessions to help accountants making that next step. For me personally it also worked out quite well. Our activities were noticed by Exact and after the acquisition by Wolters Kluwer they reached out to me whether I was willing to join the champions league. I did and I have no regret. Although the high level scenario feels a bit the same, after three years at Exact the company will be acquired by Apax where the Cloud Solutions market value more than tripled, there is so much milage left which we need to accomplish our ambition to become a global market leader in the business software industry for smaller companies.

The next step in social

Social today is immediately associated with networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Which is not strange since a whole new industry has been created the last couple of years around these new media channels. All kinds of services and tools were developed over the last 5 years which makes our lives more easy to control this media channel. In the meantime there is a clear distinction between the earned and owned part of social media and the paid part. Paid is just like bringing your advertisements in appealing (rich media) display banners to the outer world via these networks. But in fact it is still a but oldskool promotion, improper usage of these channels by marketing.Promoted Tweets via Twitter or advertisements via Facebook and LinkedIn to get in front of your target audience has become daily practice. We have full time online specialists managing these paid channels day in day out to get the max out of it. Really interesting to see how this works. But in fact it is still a bit oldskool promotion, improper usage of these channels by marketing. Shout out that we are there however we are better able to target to a specific audience and therefore can be more relevant. And the fact that everything is digital enables us to serve prospects better by bringing them value very much content driven.

We are aware in which phase of the customer lifecycle we need to do what with regards to social media.

But overseeing the paid and earned part of social media so far within Exact, how are we doing there? I think we are doing very well. We have full coverage on social media where it matters to our prospects and clients in 6 different countries in one consistent way. Our blogs are becoming the social media hubs for content distribution and if I look at those numbers it is getting more and more traction. Webcare is in place so people who reach out to us get proper answers by the right professionals of Exact. We are aware in which phase of the customer lifecycle we need to do what with regards to social media. We know what impact we want to make which are defined in quantitative and qualitative plans. We measure and try to improve. Yes, there is still a lot of room for improvement but with the right professionals at the right spots we will make great progress next year. If I compare the current situation with 3 years ago there is a major difference. But let’s focus on whats next, whats the next step in social media for Exact?

Bringing social business to life

Now that we and the market have an understanding about social media I think it is time to make the next big step. The market is ready and we are also ready. Now is the time to show off how we think as Exact companies can benefit even more from this whole social thing. In my opinion this goes beyond the things we are doing or showing today. Where many companies are talking about SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and the cloud) we will start to show how to truly embrace it and make it work for companies. We will not only inspire smaller companies but we will also provide them with the tools to grow their business based on the new principles which matter in today’s economy. Whether you are a bookkeeper, accountant, entrepreneur or small business owner, you will be amazed how we will enable you to grow your business. In a contemporary way, what is called social business. These new principles in my opinion:

Now that we embraced social media in the way we practice marketing and will continue improving that, we will start to embrace it within our products. This will go beyond the things we currently do by supporting Twitter already in our CRM webapp. This will be Endomondo like where marketing is part of the product but in such a way that it is ultimate beneficial for you as a user. That it will give you value right away from the very first click. Easy to adopt, easy to understand but most of all the ultimate experience that will grow your business. We will focus on what’s next, we will challenge the status quo and we dare to invest in this next step of social business, do you?

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