Social Business–The Next Step Beyond Social Media

Social Business–The Next Step Beyond Social Media

May 10, 2012

In late 2011, IBM began implementing a “Social Business” initiative.

The team at always wants to share insights into the future of our industry, so enjoy the following report.

“Social media is about media and people, which is one dimension of the overall world of business. With Social Business you start to look at the way people are interacting in digital experiences and apply the insights derived to a wide variety of different business processes.”

This explanation of the concept of Social Business came from Ethan McCarty, IBM’s senior manager of digital and social strategy, in a Sept. 2011 FastCompany article by Drew Neisser — “Move Over Social Media; Here Comes Social Business.”

Now, David Armano, EVP, Global Innovation & Integration at Edelman Digital, has written about “Social Business: Where It’s Been & Where It’s Going” in a recent Logic + Emotion post.

“Not unlike how Digital Media evolved into Digital Business—-Social Business takes the foundation of Social Media and begins to build new economic models on top of it,” writes Armano.

Here are highlights from both articles:

Fast Company

1. Social Media will be dwarfed by Social Business.  While social media has helped many companies become more customer-centric, it is treated primarily as a modestly effective marketing tool.

2. People do business with people, not companies.  One of the notions behind becoming a Social Business is that your employees should be front and center in your digital activities.

3. Your employees need to be digital citizens, too. Becoming a Social Business means recognizing the need for your employees to become “digital citizens” and providing the training for them to manage their digital reputations.

4. You don’t need to eat the whole Social Business elephant in one bite.  When asked, “How do you eat an elephant?” the sage pygmy replied, “One bite at a time.” And so it is with Social Business initiatives.

5. A Social Business can be a good business, too.  The same tools and processes that go into creating a Social Business can also be put to use for social good.

6. Enough already with the useless email chains. Most companies rely on email as the primary means to share information among employees, despite the havoc it often creates. Social Business needs to employ more collaborative digital work tools (well beyond email) that are asynchronous, enabling a geographically disperse team to do great work together.

7. It’s okay to fail as long as you do it quickly. Since not every Social Business initiative will take hold, it is important to try lots of approaches and move on when one doesn’t work.

David Armano  

1. Digital: The Interactive Revolution.  The digital revolution initially begun by replacing the analog world. Things like music converted into digital formats.  Organizations, businesses and industries had to evolve along with it. Most did and the ones that didn’t were outperformed.

2. Digital Media: Information Goes Online. The “corporate” Website was born—essentially a glorified brochure for your organization.  However, the business world began to wake up to the fact that not being on the Web was perhaps risking being irrelevant. This sentiment is important to take into account as compared to today’s social media.

3. Digital Business: The Transactional Era. As the Internet, fueled by digital media and a wealth of information became more pervasive, the Internet evolved yet again, creating new ecosystems resulting in new companies (Amazon, eBay, etc.) and creating opportunities for existing companies to extend their business models.

4. Social: The Human Web. With digital now established as transformational business tool—the Internet and the world began to evolve again. Early incarnations of a “Social Web” such as message boards and forums gave rise to early social networks and the “blogosphere.”  Networks such as My Space or Friendster introduced the concept of managing a social profile on the Web while blogs began to disrupt the media landscape by empowering anyone to act like a journalist or publisher.

5. Social Media: Global, Local, Mobile Connectivity at Scale.  Today, we live and interact with a digital world which is not only about finding information but is about being “connected.”  Huge amounts of data, or “social data,” is currently flooding the current global digital ecosystem. This sets the stage for an era that’s already begun, but is still in it’s infancy (Social Business).

6. Social Business: Connected, Adaptive & Intelligent. Despite much of the chatter around “Social Business,” the reality is that most organizations are currently dealing with the realities of social media and only a few truly recognize the potential of Social Business. In the immediate years to come, the amount of data available to the average business will be infinite, however the data will be meaningless without the ability to interpret and act upon it.

7. Winners & Losers: Navigating Today And Tomorrow’s World.  Today, digital has become embedded into the lives of millions of people and a generation who has never known life before it pours into our workforce and gradually rises in the ranks. Tomorrow’s business models must not only be able to adapt to change, they must help drive that change.