Social Business can mean many things to many people.

Of course you have what could be called “classic” social business; the implementation of popular social sites into your marketing strategy.  But that’s not what I am talking about here.

For the sake of clarity and this blog, let’s define Social Business as:

“Using social collaboration patterns to enhance the user experience of your audience and drive affinity to your business, products, and services.”

I use the term “patterns” to simply state that I am not talking about a product or a technology, rather, I am talking about an approach, a concept, a process.  Later in this blog we define at least three discernible areas of focus for Social Business.

Now that I have your attention, let me take it a little further and try to hone in on a couple of key words.

  • Your business: You want high levels of satisfaction and to grow your business
  • Audience: Who are you targeting?  Customers, Employees, Partners, the World.
  • Affinity: Why doesn’t everyone use and love us… or… It’s time to take control, listen, adapt, and delight

In this blog, we are not going to address technology or costs.  We will leave that to another blog.  We will break it down to three large categories and discuss what’s unique and common about them.  My goal is to help you break down social to some basic elements to help you understand the difference between the areas.  This should help you make better decisions when it comes to your company’s overall social strategy.

The three areas of social as it relates to your business

MARKETING – Integrating popular social channels into your company’s marketing strategy to drive broad based awareness to your organization, products, and services.

  • Let’s call this “classic” since this is what most people think of when they are considering what their social strategy is.  Basically, using popular social channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to promote your brand, products, and information.

OPERATIONAL – Integrating social processes into your mission critical and back-office systems

  • Integrated functionality that is a mix of business rules, workflow, and collaboration around systems of record. Think workflow and ERP… on steroids.
  • Communication and collaboration amongst your organization – Think Intranet 2.0.
  • Extended functionality to partners from an operational perspective – Think Partner portal.
  • Projects and related

CUSTOMER – Harnessing the power of your customers by providing a means to share knowledge while helping foster personal and business relations for people that use your products and services

  • Private social networks that are typically invite only, focused on the natural collaboration and extended enterprise value of having your customers connect with each other.
  • Basic social capabilities
    • Walls
    • Groups
    • Notifications
    • Connections
    • Ratings/Promotions
    • Sharing
    • File management
    • Etc…
    • A desire to create an affinity to your organization
    • A desire to understand and proactively stay in tune with your audience
    • Drive long lasting relationships that drive opportunity and satisfaction

What’s different and where should I focus?

The simple answer is: All three and possibly at the same time.  Though they are very different in approach, they all interplay in your goal of driving affinity and satisfaction to your organization.  If done well, your strategy can have an amazing impact on your business.  But you will not get the same results from each approach and this may play a role in understanding what to expect.

Some Important Stats…

According to Dion Hinchcliffe’s recent blog, “Social media’s rocky road in business

Two-thirds of businesses are now using social technology for marketing and related functions; 37 percent expect social media to be used regularly across their entire business; 9 percent expect it to be fully integrated–AIIM Report 2012

79 percent of companies use, or are imminently planning to use, social media. Neary half of the companies who were rated as “effective” in social media said it was integral to their firms’ strategy–Harvard Business Review Analytics Services

59 percent of companies use social media to engage with customers, 49 percent to advertise, and 35 percent to research customers; 30 percent use social media to research competitors and new products. Half, however, collect no data from social media–Stanford Business  2012 Social Media Survey.

Interesting statistics and insight to what companies are doing and how the concepts of the social enterprise are becoming more sophisticated and mature.


Based on my descriptions of Marketing, Operational, and Customer, what areas are you focused on?

My next blog will look at each one of these areas and explain the challenges and benefits companies have had with their initiatives.  In addition, I will be reviewing one of the major ERP vendor’s strategy and tools and will provide you some idea of what to expect from that perspective.