Defining Social Business

Social Business; for most of us it’s a relatively new term and still a bit of a mystery.

What does it mean?

When does an organization transform from just a business that uses social media to a social business?

What does a social business look like from the inside?
From the outside?

 “A Social Business isn’t a company that just has a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Social Business means that every department, from HR to marketing to product development to customer service to sales, uses social media the way it uses any other tool and channel to do its job.” – Sandy Carter, IBM’s Vice President of Social Business Evangelism via How to Build a Social Business on Forbes   

Social business often begins with an overhaul of how a business communicates. For many companies it ends up meaning a shift in operations and ideals is necessary before real change can happen. Some of these moves are obvious and at other times they require a new way of thinking.

Brian Solis argues that many who use social media are actually counterproductive in that they ultimately become more antisocial.

“While brands engage with customers in social networks, customers walk away with an experience that is the ultimate judgment of value. Here we are presented with an incredible opportunity to strengthen customers ties. We’re given a well of insight to put into action. We’re presented with a stage to show brand empathy and earn relevance through our actions and words. Are we embracing the opportunities before us or in the end, does our investment equate to traditional marketing in a new interactive design?” – Is Your Business Antisocial?

Many attempts at being social are earnest, but are poorly planned or under the direction of misinformed decision makers.

Social media campaigns are typically designed with marketing or PR objectives in mind. Social business argues that being social isn’t merely a campaign or adopting a new communication platform/tactic only because the competition is doing so, but a type of medium that can help all areas of business. It doesn’t start, stop, or end. It’s here for now and the foreseeable future for us to use as recklessly or as tastefully as we choose, either by free will or because of the (self-imposed?) boundaries set up within our company.

In larger organization social business might start from the top up through management or stem from the bottom via employees on the customer frontlines. Either way eventually there needs to be cooperation and an understood level of involvement through all departments. For smaller companies social business can take shape quickly once a commitment to do so is made

Social business is difficult to quantify not necessarily because it’s complex, but rather because it’s all encompassing. The return should be obvious, yet it won’t come without a real push of effort from within the company.

Coasting through social media is deceptively easy.
Blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking etc… these boxes aren’t difficult to put in place and check off.

Earning the trust of customers day in and day out through collaboration, targeted listening, relevant media, two way open communication, and a strong company culture is what separates a company that uses social media from one that embraces social business.

What side of the fence do you stand on?

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