Buzzword Trends: “Social Business” on the rise, supplanting “Enterprise 2.0” and “Social CRM”


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In the wake of’s aborted and just plain stupid attempt to trademark “Social Enterprise,” I decided to take a fresh look at how other social buzzwords have been doing.

As you can see in the chart below, Google searches on “social business” have been steadily increasing since about 2009, while “enterprise 2.0” has headed in the opposite direction. Searches on “social crm” peaked in 2011 and appear to be trending slightly down in 2012.


I think Enterprise 2.0’s time is about up. With pushing “social” rather than “collaboration” or “Enterprise 2.0” the market should get more and more comfortable with “social business” as the industry term for using social computing/media for business, with customers and/or employees.

No word yet on what term the Benioff Bunch will select, now that “social enterprise” will be left to the, um, real social enterprises.

As for “crm,” its search volume is declining but still massively larger than any of the other terms. If you include “crm” with the other 3 terms above, they don’t even register.

Increasingly, when people talk or write about “Social CRM” they mean connecting a social monitoring application with a traditional CRM system. That’s what I predicted would happen 3 years ago, when there was much talk about how Social CRM should mean more collaborative, win-win relationships.

That’s like pushing a rope uphill. When you attach a qualifier to CRM, and the market thinks CRM = technology, the new term will also mean technology. Oh, in case you were wondering, about 80% of searches on CRM still generate hits on software companies and related service providers.

But I think it’s also fair to say that in the right hands, a Social CRM system can support a company’s strategy to be more collaborative, including listening and engaging via social media.

Now that “social business” has won the buzzword war, let’s all turn out attention to Big Data. Should be good for another 2-3 years of debate, at least! First question: Is Big Data a strategy?

Further reading:
* Social CRM: Strategy, Technology or Passing Fad?
* Can you do “Social CRM” without Social Media/Networks? Or Without CRM systems?


  1. This was a question I raised two years ago on the BusinessZone network when the term that was coined by Muhammad Yunus started to take on a new meaning, of business driven by social media.

    The Linkedin Group I’d started in 2008, Social Business and For Benefit corporations, reflected this approach to business.

    Linkedin is clearly a major social media platform and its own definition of social business in the skills category is that of Yunus.

    It seems a strange paradox, that before declaring a redefinition of social business, so many social media advocates seem unable to perform a search to determine existing usage.

  2. Jeff, I feel your pain.

    It’s too bad that “social” now means “using social media” to many people. When of course it has had a completely different meaning for much longer.

    There is a page on Wikipedia dedicated to Social Business and it mainly discusses Yunus’ view that a social business is a type of social enterprise, including non-profits and other organizations with strong social missions.

    Unfortunately, with the popularity of social media in recent years, the term “social business” has come to mean using social media for business purposes. And that is how I am using it in this post. See Social business model on Wikipedia.

    If you do a Google search of “social business” and you’ll find about 80% of the entries on the first few pages are about social tools.

    But, good news! The Yunus Centre is still on page one!

    Maybe we (the industry) should have stuck with “social computing” instead. But that would have been too straightforward.

  3. Interestingly, the trends for book titles (at least to this point) may be different. We’re working on a project focused on books about social and digital technologies, and I decided not to search (GoodReads) on social workplace, social enterprise, and social business because they produced too many confounding results. Enterprise 2.3 produced 37 results. Social CRM produced 4. FWIW…

    Courtney Shelton Hunt
    Founder, Social Media in Organizations Community (SMinOrgs)
    Founder, Global Center for Digital Era Leadership (GCDEL)

  4. Thanks for sharing your findings.

    “Enterprise 2.0” is an industry term created solely to represent the use of emergent technologies in the enterprise. So searches on that term are a good indication of the popularity.

    Social enterprise, social business and social workplace can be interpreted at least two ways:
    A. in the traditional societal way, for the good of people, community, etc.
    B. in the social computing way, using social media and related technologies

    However, if you do a search on these terms you’ll find that the most common results of social enterprise is still skewed towards meaning A, while social business and social workplace is skewed towards B.

    I think it’s fair to say that Google search results shouldn’t be assumed to be exactly what the population actually thinks these terms mean. But I do believe that as people search on these terms, if the search results are dominated by a particular meaning, it will influence perception. In part, that’s why CRM has come to mean technology.


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