Social Business: What Does the Concept Mean, Really?

We often hear of the concept of Social Business, but what does that really mean?

what is a social businessThis week, the theme of each of our blog posts will be this idea of Social Business and trying to breakdown the concept in a way that any business can understand and apply it.

A lot of people see Social Business as meaning a number of different things. That’s understandable; this is a relatively new concept so there is a lot of flexibility in terms of what it is and how it applies.

Social Business: A Definition

A lot of people consider the term ‘Social Business’ to mean something that it isn’t.

On a very superficial level, there is the school of thought that thinks a social business is one that has a presence on social media. There are also those that feel as though a social business refers to a member of the tech world, maybe an app developer or a standalone social network. These are not ‘wrong’ per se, they are just incomplete.

According to Deloitte, a ‘social business’ is one that employs any of the following elements:

  • Consumer-based social media and networks
  • Technology-based, internally developed social networks
  • Social software for enterprise use
  • Data derived from social media and technologies

(Definition taken from the MIT Sloan Management Review Research Report 2013 in collaboration with Deloitte University Press, Social Business: Shifting Out of First Gear.)

I would recommend taking it a step further. There are millions of businesses that could technically, based on the criteria above, be considered ‘social’ in some form or another. Now, the study cited goes on to explain that there are three types of ‘social businesses’: those in the early, developing and maturing stages of becoming social. That said, I would still create an additional barrier to considering a business social.

What Is It, Really?

In order for a business to truly be considered ‘social’, at least two of the criteria above must exist within the business. Those two are that the business must be present on consumer-based social media and that data derived from social media activity needs to be incorporated into the execution of business initiatives.

The world is social. In order for a business to be considered social as well, it needs to be highly active on social media and using the data derived from these media in order to modify and (this is the important part) improve business operations. A few weeks ago, I wrote an article detailing the concept of Responsive Branding. For a business to be ‘social’, this has to be a factor in business operations.

Take the data collected on social – and there is a lot – and use it to your advantage. If you really want to be a ‘social business’ you need to be using social to run your business. Simply sharing content to Facebook does not a ‘social business’ make. Analyzing response, engagement, customer reception, conversion and any other data from your social networks and using that information to build your business makes your business social.

Now, one of the inherent (or, at least, more likely) results of taking social so seriously is going to be the use of internal tools, like Salesforce Chatter, in order to increase internal efficiency. But for a business to really be social, points one and four need to be there.

So ask yourself, is your business social, really? Tell us why or why not in the comments below or on Twitter!

Also, stay tuned for more articles this week on Social Business!

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