tiistai 21. tammikuuta 2014

Defining Social Business and Social Media throughout the Enterprise

In Avance we decided to celebrate our 30 year jubilee by organizing five events which tackle head on the most important issues in successful organizations face today. The first event will focus on maximal and strategic use of social media.  Neal Schaffer is certainly an expert on that topic. https://www.jyu.fi/jsbe/avance/juhlailmot
Read his blogpost below.

Let’s talk about defining this “social business” term that you have probably been hearing a lot more in the world of social media. Through understanding my perspective on social business, you’ll begin to understand how far social media is beginning to be utilized through the enterprise by some leading companies here in the United States.

To define social business, I want to offer two different perspectives here. One is the official line. Really, the “official definition” of social business originates from Nobel Peace Prize laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus. He has written books about it several years ago. His definition of social business is the following: “A social business is a non-loss, non-dividend company designed to address a social objective within the highly regulated marketplace of today.”
There is another variant on the social business model which is a term applied on the businesses that adapted social networking tools and practices for internal and external functions across their organizations. This is what many call a “social enterprise.”

My definition of social business is going to be closer to the above variant, although a bit different. It is based on what I have seen evolved in social media, just based on my own social media consulting experience. Let’s start with how I began consulting.

After publishing my first social media book and speaking on social media at several local events, in January of 2010, during the course of two weeks, 4 local companies reached out to me for help with their social media. “Can we hire you on a consulting basis?”

I thought really hard as to what my role should be in working with these companies. Did I want to do social media on their behalf? No! Did I want to help them navigate and utilize social media in what I believe would be the right way in terms of best practices and help them achieve their objectives? Absolutely yes! What was needed in order to help them do that?
This is how I started creating my own business model and intellectual property assets in social media strategy consulting.

I realized that companies needed help with the following two things. 

Number one is strategy. You can do a lot with social media. What exactly do you want to achieve? How can we map what is possible in social media with your corporate objective?

Number two is education. I needed to make sure that my clients were up to speed as quickly as possible as to what was possible in social media. What were the best practices? In other words, how can I best replicate my knowledge and really give them a customized brain dump for their own situation? Only in this way could any strategy that I create become both an implementable as well as internalized solution.

To be honest with you, I found my role was becoming that of a management consulting job more than a social media marketer. I say that because my professional experience is in B2B sales, business development, and marketing where I launched sales organizations from scratch in Asia for a few different organizations. Anyone who has been a Country Manager or Regional Vice President like I was knows that you need to wear a lot of different hats internally as part of your job. At the end of the day, you have to hit your sales number. But in addition to sales, you also have to manage marketing activities, hire staff, deal with customer service, advise on legal issues, and even handle administrative issues. It all falls in your responsibility. And that experience, if you really want to be a social media consultant, is what you need. The reason why is as social media permeates industry, it also permeates corporate discipline.

One of my clients wanted to use social media for customer service. This is back in the day when companies were still trying to think of how they could potentially use social media throughout their organization. There is social recruiting, and even social media for the legal department. For instance, how do you deal with regulated industries and disclosure complaints and also the social media policies and how it protects companies in worst case scenarios that we have already seen happening? What about social media for product development, gleaning product feedback directly from the public without having to create private research groups? 

One time during a specific social media strategy consulting project, I told my clients for the first meeting to kick things off that we needed to have everyone doing anything related to social media come to our first meeting and get their input and try to make the consulting process as naturally collaborative as possible. There were about fifteen people who came to the first meeting, basically representing every department within the organization. 

This is how far social media has evolved – and that particular experience was back in 2012! So, when we talked about that social business variant of using external networking tools for internal and external functions, yes, this is still true. But what most people don’t see and what I would add to the definition is that social media from a corporate perspective really began as really an outbound focus headed by marketing or public relations to engage with others, but it was primarily still seen in the traditional paradigm of one-way broadcast. We all know now that social media is a two-way communication channel. What happened over time, obviously, through complaints that people make in social media, interesting content contributions made through social media campaigns, through questions consumers ask brands over social media, and comments people make - we now know that the more engagement that brands and businesses do with social media users, the more feedback that can be utilized internally for a variety of purposes they get. 

Getting back to my definition of social business, then, I would say it is not just the outbound efforts that companies pursue with social media users, and it’s not just about receiving the feedback but it is in addition the input of that feedback into everything your business does that best defines a true social business. There are companies that are starting to make business decisions based on what feedback they receive in social media.  In other words, when considering a strategy for any given internal department, they are beginning to ask not only what role social media can play, but also what suggestions social big data might have for them. In such a way, inside a social business, social media doesn’t replace anything – but it complements everything.

There are no shortcuts in becoming a social business, but regardless of where your company is in the evolution, I hope I have given you some food for thought as to where in your organization you can use social media. Think outside of the box with regards to how you might be able to use social media. Bring every department into your social media strategy. Your company will ultimately benefit for it.

Neal Schaffer
Maximize your Social
President, Author, Founder

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