Have you noticed all the buzz around social business lately? It’s not a new term, but it is quickly gaining popularity. Admittedly it originated from another meaning – a business that conducts itself in a manner that contributes to society in a positive way. Due to the explosive adoption of social media in business, the meaning has shifted.
what is a social business anyway?
A social business is one that embraces the culture and technology of the social media revolution for strategic business outcomes. It understands that employees across the organization should contribute to brand excellence through external and internal engagement. Becoming a social business is a journey, not a certification process. It is imperative for an organization to first understand the benefits of being a social business. There are many, but I’ll highlight three key reasons to become a social business.
It’s 2013 and we live in a hyper fast, information-rich world. Customers expect to have access to the people in your business, and digital channels make that possible. Whether it’s a tweet that resolves a customer service issue within minutes, or a community forum where customers can solve each other’s problems, these are the modern expectations from the customer. So, if your competitors operate as a social business creating valuable business outcomes in these ways, you can decide to either compete or risk becoming irrelevant in the eyes of the customer.
Did you notice the definition of social business includes “external and internal engagement?” A social business isn’t just good at using social media in their marketing. Internal employee engagement through the use of social collaboration systems such as Yammer, Chatter or Jive (no allegiance to any of these) provides employees the ability to find subject matter experts in the organization, engage with them and solve business problems. Comparing this method of collaboration to a tool such as email is like comparing a row boat to a power boat.
Let’s refer back to the definition again…A social business measures business outcomes. We’re not talking about measuring “likes,” “re-tweets,” or “followers.” Business outcomes are tangible events that have clear and measurable impact to the business. For example, measuring the sentiment of your brand can give you insight into decisions you need to make pertaining to your communication strategy. Or, gathering insights about the aspects of your product disliked most can help you shape the next version of your product. Or, understanding which customer complaints can be addressed through digital channels versus which need to be handled by a live CSR can have a significant cost savings. These three examples alone can have a material financial impact on the business.
How to become a Social Business
Becoming a social business is a strategic decision. Depending on the size and culture of your business, it could take months or years. For most organizations, there is a healthy period of one to three years to mature into a social business. Generally speaking, when an organization exhibits the following five characteristics they have reached social business status:
- Executive level support
- Employee participation
- Organization-wide view of marketing
- Use of social technology
- Extensive use of data-driven marketing
I’ve seen other buzzwords used in place of social business. Some of them include “business 2.0” or “the social enterprise,” or “enterprise 2.0.” I think we’ll be using social business for a while to describe the company who embraces contemporary thinking, real-time customer engagement and a strategic approach to conducting business at the P2P (another buzzword) level. P2P is “person to person” in case you hadn’t heard that buzzword before.
I’m not enamored by buzzwords. What really gets me jazzed up is witnessing businesses whose leadership team and staff operate in a way that is authentic, transparent and truly caring about their customer, while leveraging the current digital channels to connect, serve and delight customers without forgetting the person to person connection that must occur between a business and its customer.
I’m so passionate about social business that I’m launching a new digital TV show appropriately called the Social Business Engine.
I will interview guests on the Social Business Engine from around the world who exhibit most of the five characteristics. They will share their journey story and you will be a little wiser from it. And, hopefully a little inspired to become a social business…You can subscribe below…It’s free.