3 Reasons to put Business back into Social Business

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Three reasons to get “business” back into Social Business are: to manage its risk, complexity and cost as a major project initiative; to ensure it fits with business strategy and informs it from customer strategies; and, to ensure that it is effectively operationalised.

Getting “business” right is a pre-requisite to getting the use of social media right. The notion of Social Business (in the new for-profit sense) has evolved from discussions over the last couple of years that started with social media and evolved into such things as “social business design“.

Social media in business was a prosumer innovation

It should have been the other way around – from goals to objectives to plans to actions, and using appropriate methodologies and tools along the way. But social media was a prosumer innovation – bringing personal tools into corporates, as was blogging only 5 or 6 years ago.



With everybody having now taken a deep breath, it’s clear that companies with good culture, customer relations, products, services and innovation will succeed without social media, but they will multiply their own positive attributes via social media. For companies that don’t have their act together, social media might well make things worse, in a number of ways, or at best just be a distraction.

Social business has grown out of the effects of social media. We’re now putting “business” into social business in order to get the cart before the horse.

Moving from social media to social business is a complex process

No news here. We’ve learnt that moving from social media to social business is a complex process, and even more so where the enterprise doesn’t start from a clear coordinated strategy and culture.

As @deswalsh recently noted:

It’s one thing for a small firm to develop and implement a social media strategy, and even on a small scale there can be challenges, such as in terms of skill sets, organizational culture, time management issues, budget and accountability. At the enterprise level the challenges can be much more daunting.

So the #1 reason to put business back into social business is to be able to manage the risk and complexity (and cost) of the undertaking. This is done by consistent methodologies and training, and recognition of the way enterprises work and like to work on these kind of initiatives, by using people who are familiar with corporate behaviour.

Shaping business strategy in unison with social and customer strategies

Umair Haque wrote in From Social Media to Social Strategy that “Social media strategy fits inside a marketing (business, corporate) strategy, and is shaped by it. Social strategy fits outside business and corporate strategies, and shapes them. Social strategies are about rewriting the logic of the industrial era entirely, shifting gears in how we think, envisioning a broader, more powerful, more challenging use of social tools.”

Social Business accepts that social media strategy “sits inside” a business strategy ( you could say it is one of the strategies supporting the goals and objectives of the business). And it is also informed and shaped by “social strategies” and in particular customer strategies.

The means of shaping business strategy in unison with social and customer strategies is the #2 reason that business needs to be put back into the social business which has evolved from the social media end. This is the business ability to look across the landscape of the business, the landscape of customers, to envisage and to innovate, and to know what will work and now work within the client enterprise. It’s what good business consultants do, and they work within a framework.



Social business as a going concern

The #3 reason to put business back into social business is that the business – as whole – needs to be running all this when the consultants leave. The whole business needs to know why, have clarity of purpose, consistency of execution, and mutual commitment to each other and each department to each other, and to gain it from the customers.

This is the operational result. This isn’t achieved through campaigns or any one department “getting” social media and social business, no matter how great the result. It’s achieved through hard work of the consulting team, the client’s team, and the various collaborating parties. Again, the frameworks and the interfaces and the measures for these complex activities need to all become institutionalized – this is the business of project implementation and change management and technology selection and integration. Social media per se isn’t driving this success.

Consolidation of social business consulting groups is accelerating

image from di.typepad.com There aren’t many groups in the world, yet, who can provide this kind of service – to really put the business into Social Business. There is a consolidation and I wrote about Brian Solis joining Altimeter. I’m a Cofounder of the Social Business Consulting Group #sobizco and we are also representative of the consolidation.

2011 is the year in which more groups will merge and emerge, and Social Businesses will very clearly emerge as a new competitive force. We know, from Altimeter, that most Social Strategists and their programs lack maturity, with “only 23% of Social Strategists having a formalized program with long-term direction”.

These new business-oriented merged consulting groups will help corporate Social Strategists develop a proactive program that gets ahead of the demands, and operate from a strategic planning position. This will ensure that they don’t “fall behind in requests from vocal customers and internal business units”, thereby becoming reactive and what Altimeter calls the “Social Media Help Desk”.

Bringing proper program planning, shaping business strategy in unison with social and customer strategies, and having commitment and consistent execution are all keys to successful Social Business.

What do you think are the most important forces shaping Social Business in 2011?



Do you see a future for larger business-oriented social business consulting groups?

Walter @adamson
http://xeesm.com/walter

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