Beyond Social Business Software: Making the Case for Open Source Social Publishing
By Bryan House, Acquia
One of the most hotly debated questions among marketers and company executives
is "How does my organization become a truly social business?" With more pressure
than ever to "engage" with customers, user-groups, influencers, etc. this question
is bubbling to the top of most executives' and technologists list. In my opinion,
the biggest obstacle for businesses is finding the right blend of content and
community in order to get true context and added value. Until now,
the answer (and solutions) to the "social business" question have offered limited
options: use traditional proprietary software with legacy licensing models, or
rely on unwieldy white label community management solutions that are often too
disconnected to help businesses meet their engagement objectives. In this article
I'll make a case for a third option: open source social publishing. Not only a
cost alternative but an innovation alternative to these other models, open source
is emerging as the viable answer to an organization's social business quandary.
Meeting the Social Business Imperative:
Whether you are a product company introducing a new consumer packaged goods
offering, a media publisher introducing a new artist or author, or a government
agency trying to improve citizen engagement, you must support this broad new
range of dynamic online interactions: you must become a "social publisher."
Furthermore, you must be able to respond to changes within your market quickly:
your social publishing platform must not impose technical barriers to the introduction
of new products, the launch of new micro sites, or the delivery of key information
to your users, customers, constituents, or competitors.
After a period of experimentation with a multitude of technologies and approaches
to social publishing, businesses are looking to one of three dominant approaches:
1. proprietary products, with perpetual license charges and maintenance fees
or per-user pricing models;
2. "white label" community platforms, where an organization decides
to outsource the development and ongoing management of their community to a
third-party agency; or
3. Open source solutions.
Businesses approaching the social business question from either of the first
two angles are going to find themselves falling short. On one hand, enterprises
are driven to create authoritative "groomed" or "controlled"
content- about their products, services, etc- in order to drive engagement.
They are investing in content management systems to track, manage and monitor
everything flowing through the repository. However, the downside is that these
large (often clunky systems) are designed with a command and control, workflow
mentality. They not designed to foster social interaction and cannot quickly
evolve to meet new social business needs. In order to counter this, business
turn to option #2- building third party communities such social networks, forums,
etc- to serve as social, user-driven channels. However these communities are
built around connections and networking rather than content, leaving visitors
with more "friends," but very little value for their time spent on
the community site. Additionally, these services are silos of interactivity,
disconnected from a business' core content or website.
The good news is that there is another way: open source.
Becoming a Social Business Through Social Publishing
Option #3, open source social publishing, has emerged as a viable strategy for
meeting social business requirements, both in terms of cost and innovation.
Enterprise leaders who already have committed to open source know that the overall
value in moving to the OS model goes way beyond initial savings. Access to innovation
from the community, support and security assurances from companies such as Acquia,
allow business users to enter into open source social publishing without hesitation
How exactly does social publishing usher in the new "social business"
required in today's market?
Drupal, is the convergence of web content management software (WCM) and social
software tools in a unified system. As a result, Drupal transcends boundaries
between internal Enterprise 2.0 applications and external Web 2.0 applications.
Based upon the experiences of a huge Drupal ecosystem that contributes new modules
for every desired function back to the community, the platform delivers on what
being a social business means:
- Accepting that everyone in your company is a marketer: from corporate communications
to your engineering team, everyone has a role in how your business and brand
- Understanding that collaboration with customers is only as good as your
ability to connect your community with your primary web activities, and then
tune the social media feedback loop inward and make real business moves in
- Realizing that the number one concern of everyone at the board room table
is reputation management, and operating a responsive social business is the
only way to address it.
By leveraging Drupal's capabilities as a social publishing platform, organizations
are able to reinforce their branded experiences and deliver relevant content
to their customers and stakeholders. By exploiting Drupal as an open source
project, developers supporting these organizations can easily enhance and extend
Drupal's capabilities, and introduce innovative modes of interactivity that
meet specific business requirements.
At the end of the day Drupal is an attractive investment with substantial business
benefits that get right to the heart of what enterprises really need:
- ONE technology solution that seamlessly marries content management and Social
Software, not siloed collaboration functions;
- a single platform to power the web in a company; public facing websites,
external facing communities, and internal facing collaboration - connecting
content and community across these channels;
- the ability to quickly and easily extend a brand by launching multiple sites
in response to new opportunities;
- an Open Source community of over 600,000 driving the speed of innovation
and developing over 4,000 modules;
- a social software solution that doesn't trip you up - whether you're marketing
to customers, engaging with partners or organizing internal teams.
Open source social publishing allows enterprises to quickly build web and micro
sites to connect with existing customers and reach new audiences. Those who
have already taken the social publishing plunge have been rewarded with a platform
that sparks engagement and collaboration among highly targeted audiences. This
powerful combination of content and community in a seamless, unified experience,
promotes transparency, drives innovation and brand equity among stakeholders.