In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Nilofer Merchant (@nilofer) masterfully shared a historical perspective of the use of the word "Social" and its definitions and origins as it pertains to business. Ms. Merchant outlined the background, origin and evolution of the terms social media, enterprise 2.0, social business, social innovation and social era, providing a more contextual understanding of each term.
The term social business was first created to describe how companies deliver greater value to their ecosystem to bolster meaning. The first generation social business was defined as "make profit and meaning". The term then evolved to a second generation by the Dachis Group to include a social element and overlay across the various lines of business including marketing, development, customer support and R&D. The second generation meaning of social business was "more connected (i.e. using social tools), generating greater value to all its constituents."
In our book, The Pursuit of Social Business Excellence, Brad Martin and I described a social business as an environment that feels like a small town; people know your name, doors are open and the lights are on after closing. For us, social business transformation was less about use of technology to improve connectedness, and more about a mindset of collaboration and co-creation of value. Our ability to grow our business and delight customers was a function of (order matters): culture, people, process, and lastly use of technology.
We feel that it is important for business leaders to understand social business DNA and the specific markers that validate social transformation progress. The purpose of collaboration is aimed at improving execution velocity and customer delight. It is important for business leaders to celebrate achieving alignment to purpose. Leaders must also demonstrate to all constituents their ability to drive sustainable growth, and bolster customer loyalty and commitment, as a result of collaboration.
Here are the 10 markers of a social business DNA:
- Pragmatic optimism - a social business defaults to 'Yes' and then rationalizes to desired disposition. A positive mindset and pragmatic optimism leads to an agile and change-accepting culture. There is no safety in the status quo.
We also asked our Twitter network to help us define a social business. So was asked: "You're a social business if ___." We received brilliant answers from Twitter and listed a few below:
- @Ekaterina: You're a social business when you empower every single employee to be social and engage socially both internally and externally
- @MobileAberdeen: You're a Social Business if you understand that to lead is to follow
- @rwang0: You are a social business if you care about your relationships and stop calling yourself a social business. #socbiz
- @SteveGutzler: You're a social media business if you enter the world of your customers with sincere conversations.
- @Michael_Lytle: You're a Social Business if you are able to deliver on promises while listening NOW and looking AHEAD.
- @LauriRottmayer: You're a social business if you engage with your customers across all platforms.
- @pennyherscher: You're a social business when you deeply understand your customer's customer and their care abouts.
- @japewang: Engage and serve your customers any time, any place, anywhere.
- @smaxson: If your business, your employees and your customers co-create mutual value using social technologies
- @maitran: If your customers are at the center of your business. listen, engage, connect, deliver, delight
- @LaceySnr: You're a social business if you do don't just reply 'please phone customer support' to Twitter inquiries.
- @MarkBTowler: You're a social business if you welcome & encourage interaction from your employees AS WELL as your customers!
- @JamesMSama: You're a social business if your fans feel connected to you on more than a consumer level - but as a loyal friend.
- @renatogalisteu: You're a social business if you understand that social is the new way to find / bring value to your business
- @recborg: You're a Social Business if you understand that influence is not just a number.
- @zacharyjeans: Social Businesses will develop a CDO, Chief Digital Officer, in concert w/ existing C-Level roles.
- @ryan_t_hall21: You're a social business if every employee has a voice, where great ideas are shared and acted upon, not spoken and forgotten
- @JWLevitt: You're a social business if you are truly engaged with your customers, rather than using SM in a reactionary way.
- @IamKalpesh: you are a social business if you are part of the conversation...online AND offline