The New Stuff



A decade ago, it was Google that was shaping much of the business world. Today, it’s social media. But individual employees, from the CEO to sales and marketing reps aren’t getting their hands dirty enough to understand it or benefit from it. This is the problem that entrepreneur and author of  “The Social Business Imperative: Adapting Your Business Model to the Always-Connected Customer.”, Clara Shih, sets out to address

social media - clara-shih-
Shih, who founded an enterprise software company called Hearsay Social in 2009 and serves on the board of Starbucks, uses her book as a plea and a guide to help business executives and professionals become productively involved in their firm’s social business and digital strategy. She explores the dangers of allocating social media and digital tasks to isolated teams, as well as the new opportunities social media, mobile messaging, the “Internet of things” and the sharing economy are giving companies. Her message, in short, is that “social media is everyone’s job.”

Shih said her book is intended for any professionals who have delegated digital tasks to others or don’t think digital is part of their job, whether that be in sales, recruiting, IT, compliance, or on boards of directors and management teams. “One thing I saw working with Fortune 500 companies was that while they understood the vision of social media, they had difficulty transforming their companies into what I call social businesses,” Shih said.
She noted that leadership teams often become too busy running their core business to pay enough attention to social media, too often passing off the task to junior teams.

Related: 3 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Online Business

Shih explores a number of case studies about companies such as Wells Fargo, Fitbit and Warby Parker.
One case study, for example, is dedicated to showing how companies such as insurers can find creative ways to reach customers on a regular basis even though their customers don’t have a reason to contact them every day, in the way customers might interact with Starbucks’s app.
“Before digital was pervasive, it was okay for sales people to be pigeonholed into sales and customer service people into customer service,” Shih said. She hopes that if, for example, a sales person picks up her book, they’ll read it in its entirety, not just the chapter on social selling, because what happens in marketing and customer service affects every department and the whole company. She also emphasized that building one’s own digital skills is an important way to stay relevant as work-forces across all industries change.

Related: 7 Keys to Excellent Customer Service
Social Media can increase productivity

Company-wide dedication to social media, in the long run, improves lead generation, website traffic, productivity, time to resolution, brand sentiment and revenue, she said. “Digital has broken down all barriers, and the client doesn’t care about boundaries,” Shih said. “They have high expectations of a seamless experience.”

Related: How Passion can increase productivity in the Company

Shih has been named one of Fortune’s “Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs,” Fast Company’s “Most Influential People in Technology” and Fortune and Ad Age’s “40 Under 40.” She was also named as a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum. Shih completed a B.S. and M.S. in computer science at Stanford, and an M.S. in Internet studies at Oxford. She previously held a number of technical, product and marketing roles at Google, Microsoft and She is also wrote a book about Facebook and social media marketing “The Facebook Era”

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