What Is Social Business?
Social business the application of social technologies as a formal component of business processes—revolves around understanding how your customers or stakeholders connect to your business and how you reshape your business to understand, accept, and innovate based on their involvement. Social business is about integrating all of your business functions: customer support, marketing, the executive team, and more. It means doing this for the purpose of creating collaborative innovation and engagement at meaningful, measurable levels tied clearly and directly to your company’s business objectives.
Social Businesses Are Participative
Ultimately, social business is about participation with and by your customers and stakeholders in pursuit of an organization that is strongly connected to them through participative and collaborative processes. As a result, a social business is often better able to respond to marketplace dynamics and competitive opportunities than a traditionally organized and managed firm. This may occur through participation in a social community, support or discussion forum, or any of a variety of other social applications and contexts. The efforts leading to the creation of a social business often begin with identifying or creating an opportunity for participation with customers, employees, or stakeholders within the community or similar social applications.
Build Around Customer Participation
Regardless of who the community is intended to serve, strong communities are best built around the things that matter deeply to the members of the community: passions, lifestyles, causes, and similar fundamentally aligned needs. This applies whether the audience is primarily business B2B communities like Element 14’s engineering community or Dell’s “Take Your Path” small business owners community form around very specific shared needs common to small business owners or a personal-interest B2C or nonprofit or cause-related community
The core elements powering a social business, in any case, need to be something to which the community members (customers or potential customers, for example) will spontaneously bond, and that as a result will encourage them to invite others to join. In the case of Dell’s “Take Your Own Path,” the common element is the unique set of challenges faced by small businesses. If you’ve ever met a small business owner, you know how passionate they are about what they do. Dell has found a very effective way through the practices of social business to tap this by identifying and serving the needs of the small business owner for example, by encouraging discussion about finance and investments in business hardware.
In Search of a Higher Calling
The surest way to avoid this trap is to appeal to passion, lifestyle, or cause in other words, to anchor your initiatives in something larger than your brand, product, or service: Appeal to a “higher calling,” in a manner of speaking, one that is carefully selected to both attract the people you want to associate with and to provide a natural home or connection to your brand, product, or service.
shows the traditional business model: You make it, you tell your customers about it, and they (hopefully) buy it. This works well enough provided your product or service delivers as promised with little or no need for further dialog. It helps too if it is marketed in a context where traditional media is useful and covers the majority of your market.
Traditional media has a wide reach, and it is interruptible This provides a ready pathway to attentive customers and potential markets. The downside is that traditional media is also getting more and more expensive TV advertising costs have increased over 250 percent in the past decade—and it’s harder to reach your entire audience: What took three spots to achieve in 1965 now takes, by current estimates and measures, in excess of 100. Figure 3.1 is largely representative of this basic approach that has defined business for the past fifty years.