June 14, 2011

The Anatomy of Social Business

Last week, my colleague Mark Schaefer was kind to ask several of his community members to guest on his blog while he was on vacation. Mark knows now to build a community and knew darn well that each of us who guested would end up forming new relationships with each other.

This is the post that ran last week on The Anatomy of Social Business. Other guest contributers were: Steven Parker, Eica Allison, Jon Buscall, Margie Clayman, Caroline Di Diego, Leo Widrich and Natasha Gabriel. Thanks Mark!

There is increasing discussion these days about developing a “social business.” The vital word to remember in this name is business — real work tied to a bottom line.

The social business doesn’t start or end in the digital space but rather in the human universe. It includes the creation of a true collaborative, two-way exchange that embraces internal and external customer connection and service.

Labels such as social media, social networking, and social marketing are often misused. Social media are a collection of channels. Social networking is interaction between people through myriad digital and human channels. And social marketing embraces many channels to achieve social good. Channels are simply options.

So How Can You Make Your Company Social?

First it requires superior products or services. Creating an environment where it’s fun to work that has nothing to offer clients is a not a business. We can get distracted by the temptations of the social web and allow emotion to rule the day when we use words such as media and social. But without business, it’s a hobby shrouded in theory.

Our customers don’t care how many blog subscribers we have or who visits our YouTube channel. They may ‘like’ our Facebook group but that does not constitute a relationship, yet. They bought our stuff and they expect it to do what we said it would do. So we need an actual business that has customers or the potential of customers before we can build a social business.

Communications and marketing in a social business are not necessarily departments; they are tied to every function everyone does every day. Teamwork in a social business does not consist of butt covering, “good enough,” or that isn’t my job declarations. It embraces an understanding of the strengths of each and every person and how they complement the rest of the team. Building a social business is hard work but can be the single most important tactic you can employ to increase profits.

People Buy Into People

The construction of a social business requires the realization that human beings build the bottom line, not websites or slick messaging. It is also an environment where stakeholders understand we are all suppliers and we are all customers. We all live on both sides of the counter.

Have you ever been to a restaurant where the person serving you seems to have the best job in the world? Think about the last time you met a convenience store clerk who smiled, made eye contact and meant it when they wished you a good day. The little things are often the biggest things that can make your company social.

Different Things Different Results

It begins with the desire to look they do business inside and outside of their organization. It means they may feel uncomfortable for a while but they’ll be in good hands because the goal is to improve, not point fingers or increase workload simply to keep busy.

The clear focus is to create an environment where both stakeholders and customers want to be great and that is how sustained growth is achieved. Building a social business goes well beyond channels and websites.

How do you build a social business?

Kneale Mann

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