If you expect to succeed in social media by going for the easiest route possible, chances are you're going to fail. Just like the brands that try and emulate Apple by following just a couple of their examples of business or management, you will soon find out the truth. Doing things on the cheap will only get you so far and this applies to social media more than anything.
Because when social media was new and young all you had to do was pretty much be present in some way to get noticed. Now it's changed. What we're seeing now is brands having to go that bit further, to innovate from the inside out and be social-by-design as a business to really succeed. It's not easy, but these brands are showing how it can be done.
Sports Illustrated: driven by social
Sports Illustrated (SI) is steadily growing its presence online, through mobile and through tablet in exactly the right way, by ensuring that digital is spread throughout the entire organisation. Instead of just creating a digital department and expecting them to run the magazine 'digitally' while being completely siloed from the core team, SI decided not to create a digital department at all.
They instead ensure that digital and social flows throughout departments and is a core focus for editorial meetings. It's not about chucking stories onto an iPad edition because they have it there, but they take a considered approach to exactly how a particular story can fit for the tablet, taking into account unique, tactile features available.
It's impressive to see a traditional media brand taking this approach to social and if you've seen how a magazine or paper operates from behind the scenes, you will appreciate that this isn't an easy task. The benefit is seen in SI's digital properties however, even extending to a fantasy football game created for Facebook.
Really social by design
Showing how social can be used to change the way we do business, the illustration agency Handsome Frank decided to use Twitter to accept new project briefs for their artists. People could submit requests over Twitter, limited to 140 characters of course, and the agency responded. From the briefs received, each artist within the agency then picked their favourite and created the work. And to show that it doesn't just begin and end online, the works are currently showing at an exhibition at the Church of London.
While this might be more of a campaign initiative than a complete overhaul of a business, it shows what's possible when you use social media to do the same thing, but in a different way. It completely democratises the commission process and public access to artists. It shows you don't need big budgets to be social by design, if you have the right concept.
IBM: A social multinational
If you think that only small organisations can affect the change needed to be a true social business, then look no further than IBM. A huge multinational, admittedly in the technology space so more amenable to change, is showing how large businesses can be social by design. In this talk by Ted Stanton, you can see exactly how IBM is becoming a social business, with a huge emphasis on using social tools internally to encourage collaboration and innovation.
Social makes money: Burberry
Burberry was formed in the 1800s, but that hasn't stopped them from reinventing the company to embrace social throughout. Case studies of Burberry using social platforms aren't hard to come by - from a presence on Chinese social network Sina Weibo to unveiling their new collection to the world via Twitter and Instagram first. But on top of that, it is baking in social within their core business. For example, partnering with Salesforce to as part of their sales and CRM teams. And what's more, it's resulting in profit. Reportedly, Burberry's 21% jump in profit last year (not too bad for a luxury brand in a double dip) can be attributed largely to their social media efforts.