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What the hell is social business anyway?

Is social business just another term competing with other faddy social trends (Social media, social networking, social media marketing, social CRM…the list goes on)? Or is there really some substance behind it? How do we start making this concept work and do we really understand it?

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The thing that business and business owners need to remember, regardless of their size and their market, is that times change and people change. So as baby boomers give way to millenials and the digital divide grows ever more slight, business needs to be there to open the door as they approach it.

The first thing about social business is that it is a bit hard to categorise and define. Some would say it’s as hard as trying to eat spaghetti with a spoon. Nonetheless, I will give it a go:

“A social business is not one that merely engages with its primary and secondary audiences through social networking platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. A social business is one that places social thinking, collaboration and social processes at the heart of what it does. Social principles guide the way in which each department of the organization interacts with another and reaches a common goal.”

A social business requires a lot more out-the-box thinking than a traditional business does. Processes need to be thought out more thoroughly with the end product in mind, rather than the method in which you are going to get there. When processes are thought about in this way, it is far easier to see the links between people, rather than the links between paper trails and processes.

Collaboration is the life-blood of a social business. This comes out of the knowledge that when we are working in a group for a greater cause, we will be more efficient and achieve a better result than when we are in a silo and only shown a small part of the project that affects us.

Products and services are largely commoditised these days. This means that the only thing left to really distinguish you from your competitor is how you deal with your customer. This forms another large reason as to why social business is beginning to rise and take shape.

A truly social business understands how the behaviours of the client facing staff affect the outcomes of visitors to leads to sales. It is through listening, reacting and (the important part) learning to what is being said that can be truly revolutionary in how you transform your service. A social business understands this. A business that has a few social media accounts does not.

Social business is still incredibly young as a concept and these initial steps are all about unlocking learning into people’s behavior and relationships, and on supplementing the company’s traditional view of markets and employees.

Even more value can be gained as companies restructure how work gets done through social engagement. Social awareness can give way to social empowerment — once again placing people at the heart of business.

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