Social business is a way of working and the changes associated with it, mark a transformation that is impacting how businesses compete in the marketplace, how governments serve and engage citizens, how communities work together. It’s not just about how we communicate together; it’s much bigger. It’s like a wave washing over everything, like a force of nature.

In this post I will try to talk about what it’s all about and why it’s so important.

First, to understand the context for social business, it’s important to understand that it’s not about the tools, it’s not about the social networks or the latest greatest new app. It’s first and foremost about people, about how humans are designed and wired. It’s about our predisposition to be social creatures. It’s about how people naturally want to connect with other people, to be part of a group, to collaborate or compete, to interact, to engage, to share, to communicate, to debate, and to help each other. Humans are social and have been that way for thousands of generations. In isolation, people literally go insane. We are physically made to be social.

What’s new is that social tools have emerged that enable people to express and manifest these innate human needs around being social. The tools allow us to share information, allow us to communicate together in realtime, allow us to discuss and debate, to share opinions and ideas, allow us to tell stories. We’ve done this for thousands of years. It began with face-to-face interaction in caves sharing stories and experiences with pictures drawn on walls. Today, we can do this with people all around the world, with photos and videos, right from our office, our home, on a bench in a park from a mobile device. Today, we can be social, with anyone, from anywhere, at any time.

Social business is simply a way of doing business that is open, transparent and collaborative. It’s a philosophy as much as it is a methodology. It’s about how we approach doing business with employees, with partners, with customers, with shareholders. Social business tools make this possible, but it’s the way, the approach, the manner of interaction and engagement that’s important here.

Social media is about the internet-based technology, tools, things we can use to bring social business to life. Social media is YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Flickr and the like. Social media networks and companies will come and go, rise and fall in popularity, but what remains is the underlying social business.

We could go on all day here in this post about social business and social media, but the goal here is to understand the key fundamentals of what this is all about.

Social business is about the way we work, the overall approach to how we can work together. In their new book (which I recommend), “The Seven Success Factors of Social Business Strategy”, Brian Solis and Charlene Li talk about the social enterprise, which is “the means or method that a social business evolves an outside-in and inside-out perspective as it employs social media to transform operations, employee engagement, and customer relationships.” In other words, in a social enterprise, social business is integrated into the very fabric of the company.

Social media is about the internet tools we can use to facilitate conversations and exchange of ideas. Social media enables one-to-one, one-to-one-to-many and many-to-many interaction models. Brian correctly explains how “social media enables the democratization of information, transforming people from content readers into participants and publishers.” Social media is inherently about bi-lateral engagement, where everyone gets to participate.

Social business is a wave of transformation sweeping across our lives. The change and impact is undeniable. This is not a fad, this is something here to stay – the waves will just keep coming as social business continues to evolve forward and mature. Not far from now, we will no longer refer to it as ‘social business,’ but simply as business.

My recommendation for you as a leader swimming in the water of today’s world, is to see the wave as an opportunity for how you lead and for how your organization can make a bigger impact. Learn to understand the wave, learn how to ride it.

The wave is here.. are you ready to catch it?

 

First published at: Executive Social Academy What is this social business transformation?.

About Jim Claussen

Jim Claussen, Digital Engagement Strategy Manager, Social/Mobile/Commerce, at IBM and Founder of the Executive Social Academy. Jim helps leaders and organizations grow into social and digital engagement, shifting how they engage their workforce, prospects and customers to build advocacy, harness new innovation, unlock collective knowledge and grow business in today's connected economy. Leading with the why, Jim coaches leaders and teams around a people-centered focus first, and the ins and outs of the technology second. Jim helps people around the world through coaching, speaking, podcasting and the Executive Social Academy.

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