Creating a social business—that is to say, a business that is connected through deliberately collaborative processes with both its customers and its employees—is the task now facing many C-level and other business executives with similar responsibilities. Web 2.0 is challenging business leadership not only in the marketplace but now as well across business fronts ranging from corporate reputation and the attraction and retention of key employees to the design of new products and services. This chapter looks into the fundamental concepts of what makes a business “social.”
What Is Social Business?
Social business—the application of social technologies as a formal component of business processes—revolves around understanding how your customers or stakeholders connect to your business and how you reshape your business to understand, accept, and innovate based on their involvement. Social business is about integrating all of your business functions: customer support, marketing, the executive team, and more. It means doing this for the purpose of creating collaborative innovation and engagement at meaningful, measurable levels tied clearly and directly to your company’s business objectives.
Social Businesses Are Participative Ultimately, social business is about participation with and by your customers and stakeholders in pursuit of an organization that is strongly connected to them through participative and collaborative processes. As a result, a social business is often better able to respond to marketplace dynamics and competitive opportunities than a traditionally organized and managed firm. This may occur through participation in a social community, a support or discussion forum, or any of a variety of other social applications and contexts.
The efforts leading to the creation of a social business often begin with identifying or creating an opportunity for participation with (or between) customers, employees, or stakeholders within community or similar social applications. An important point to note here is that when social business practices are approached and implemented correctly, everyone wins.