What is social business?

what is social businessThere was a recent adAge article revealing the sheer number of people on Twitter now regarding themselves as social media experts, gurus, ninjas and whatever else.

I’ve no problem with that, it’s a free world and all, but for many of them, social media is seen as a purely marketing, or more realistically, an advertising platform.

Such thinking even infects the major networks.  At a presentation at Facebook yesterday for instance, we were told how the presidential candidates had used Facebook during the recent election.  We were told at great length how they’d used Facebook to segment their audience and deliver targeted messages at them.

In other words, they’d used social media to advertise to folks.  Social business is better than that.  Social business aims to change how our organisations behave.  It seeks to shift thinking towards a more adaptive approach.  It’s an approach that not only sees organisations tapping into the minds of all employees, but also into the minds of customers and other stakeholders.

It’s not just a marketing thing, it’s an organisational thing.  Heck, dare I say it, it’s a cultural thing.  Below is a list of areas that can be improved by taking a social approach (courtesy of the Social Business Forum)

Inside your organization:

  • Improved business performance (profit, productivity, margins, etc)
  • Increased operational efficiency
  • stronger outcomes from knowledge intensive work
  • Capturing and retaining institutional knowledge
  • Better awareness about business opportunities and colleagues needing help
  • Richer cross-department contamination and collaboration
  • Reduced email traffic and information overload
  • Cheaper and quicker mechanisms to connect colleagues, find and reuse knowledge
  • Improved cross-departmental communication
  • Reduced travel expenses
  • Facilitating the emergence of collective social capital and limiting duplication of effort
  • Stronger employee engagement and motivation
  • Increased satisfaction of partners and suppliers
  • Reduced supply chain costs
  • Lower on-boarding, training and talent retention costs
  • New levels of business agility and reactivity
  • Improved internal processes through customer insights

Outside your organization:

  • Reduced customer care costs
  • Improved client satisfaction and loyalty
  • Increased number of leads generated and deal closed
  • Shorter sell cycles
  • Lower marketing costs
  • Amplify qualified brand reputation and visibility through advocates
  • Higher sales and conversion rates through ambassadors and online communities
  • Reduced customer churn and deflection
  • Increased customer lifetime value
  • Attract better talents
  • Improved customer cross-channels

Across the organization:

  • Improved product development processes and reduced time to market
  • Smaller product development costs
  • Access to an unlimited source of ideas and feedbacks for product improvement
  • Better risk mitigation and increased number of successful ideas when launching a new product
  • Easier development of new business models

Social tools are incredibly powerful in so many different ways.  I’m fine with their being a million and one social media mavens out there, but please don’t start muddying the waters of the social business world.


5 thoughts on “What is social business?

    • Hi Jayme, thanks for stopping by. This whole area is going to be huge I think. So much potential. There are some links in the top right of this blog that cover purely social business. In particular DZone and Social Business News will be ones to keep an eye on.

  1. Very complete list of benefits. Surprising to see (well, not really a surprise, but) the 'Inside your organization' is longer than the others.
    Goes to show that changing the corporate culture is a better long term investment.

  2. Appreciated this post, Adi.
    As a passionate proponent of social business, I'm sensing a realization from companies struggling with social media, that they have to dig deeper into their way of doing business "dare I say, 'culture'" to find business strategies to make social media work for them.

    My hope is that the social business model this will trickle down from the IBM's of the world and seep into the business culture of all sizes of companies.

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