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What is a Social Business?

Submitted by on August 29, 2011 – 3:58 amNo Comment

How do we reframe business in this era of the Internet and social media?  Web 2.0?  Enterprise 2.0? McKinsey has dubbed this the Network Enterprise but all of these terms seem to miss half the point (and the crucial half at that!).   Social technologies are so named because they carry with them a cultural component.   For this reason I prefer the term “Social Business”

This is how I have framed a social business in previous writing.  I thought it worth reproducing again here:

The story of the social web is a story about how people, when given the ability to freely communicate – do so in great numbers. And when they do they abide by social rules (be yourself, listen, build relationships through give and take etc.).  Put succinctly,  Social Tools Follow Social Rules. When people are allowed to exercise their innate drive to be social they expect the companies they interact with (and work for) to get social as well. Thus social rules become the new rules of doing business.

A “Social Business” must master social media and its many technical challenges (how to monitor the online environment, create an always-on publishing model, how to optimize for search and EdgeRank etc.).  But more importantly a social business seeks to create a human-scale organization – one with more points of contact with the outside world, one where information flows more freely in more directions, one that builds community, one that inherently cares about those it engages in business with; one that deals honestly and constructively with the world around it because it is part of (and depends upon) the same social group.

A social business builds awesome products, designs awesome services because (1) it actively seeks to know and care about its customers and (2) it relies on customer communities to carry the flag. In a world dominated by networked communications where a laptop or mobile device is a broadcast tower and we are all in constant contact, I believe that businesses will need to adhere to social norms or face being ostracized. This selection pressure is irreversible.

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