Give and you shall receive. We all know this common sense but in action it is so much easier to give very little and take so much. Social Business Design is about creating a business model that is involved in your community and engaging your customers directly by listening to them, understanding their needs and finding innovative ways to address them.
As you can see in the great video below, social media is hot right now. Many new entrepreneurs and businesses are eager to jump on the social media bandwagon since the hype has grown to deafening proportions. LinkedIn’s stock has nearly doubled since its IPO in April, Facebook is valued at upwards of $80 billion dollars and the launch of Google+ caused a 15% jump in Google’s stock in just the first two weeks alone.
But there is a problem with all this social hype. The problem is that for most businesses social media wastes a lot of time and generates little in the way of results. I think the reason for this failure is that many businesses are making their social media about themselves, rather than about their customers.
Social Business Design is about reinventing the entire business and marketing model from the ground up. The businesses that figure out the new frontier of Social Business Design are going to have a strong competitive edge in the fast-growing social marketplace online.
The Rise of Social Business
A recent study done on 30 major news websites found that Google’s search engine sends 10 times more traffic than Facebook and 30 times more traffic than Twitter. Search is still king but the writing is on the wall, social media and its potential for spreading word of mouth like wildfire is the future of digital marketing.
Facebook has emerged in the last few years from relative obscurity, thoroughly crushed MySpace and grown into a major force for driving traffic through social recommendations and content sharing. In the last year alone the website has grown by over 310 million members, had a movie made about its founding (that won Best Picture at the Golden Globes) and is now on pace to have a billion members by the year 2012.
If you want to see how fast Facebook, social sharing and blogging is growing, I recommend you take a peek at Gary’s Social Media Count. The numbers are impressive, but it’s important to remember that the platform may change and Facebook may well go the way of Myspace on day. What will only grow with time is the social nature of the Internet, web 3.0 and the mobile revolution that is putting the computer in our pockets.
These digital trends are tipping the balance of power toward individuals and businesses who actually really care about their customer’s needs and are smart enough to learn how to leverage these evolving social technologies to reach them.
The New Social Business Landscape
Communication between businesses and consumers used to be a one-way broadcasting channel. Traditional media outlets like television, newspapers, and magazines told their version of the facts, pushed ads and that was the way it was done. In this media landscape, the consumer had limited means to respond, comment and be heard. What’s changed now is the information monopoly we call the mainstream media is being challenged by all kinds of disruptive social technologies that are changing human behavior.
Increasingly, people are spending their time using interactive mediums like the web, mobile and social media platforms. The new reality in the interactive digital space is that people are ignoring the intrusive ads and demanding a more dynamic relationships with products and brands in exchange for their support. The successful businesses in this new social media landscape are those that make the best effort to listen to, understand and anticipate their customer’s needs and aspirations.
Instead of pushing ads or formulaic marketing copy that anybody with half a brain ignores, Social Business Design is about exploring the need to engage your audience on its own terms. It’s not about you, it’s about them. This means you need to get your customer’s attention and ask them questions, respond promptly and then use your knowledge to engage them with fresh content that solves their problems, meets their needs and moves them enough emotionally to take action.
Most importantly, social businesses are made of up people that actually care about the world, empathize with other’s problems and know how to show it, something that is paramount to the power and effectiveness of social media and the spread of word of mouth online.
Social Business Design Resources
These Social Business Design resources provide a good introduction to the importance of evolving into a new kind of social organization that inspires consumers, motivates employees by making them creative leaders and follows a higher purpose than simply increasing a company’s bottom line. Businesses exist to serve society, not the other way around.
As the old saying goes, no man should become rich without first enriching others.
“Something went wrong in our strive to build more efficient organizations during the 20th century. How come so many employees of the 21st century feel that their companies are without a higher purpose, their workspaces uninspiring and their organization and processes bureaucratic and obstructive to getting things done?”
“A social business engages the entire workforce to support and interact with each other, with customers, with partners, and with the public to build trust and create value together.”
Influential web strategist Jeremiah Owyang’s keynote presentation on the future of social business and why many companies won’t make the leap.
Few people understand the implications of social media for business better than Brian Solis. His book “Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web” is one of the best books on social media written to date.
“Social Business Design sits at the intersection of organizational development and marketing, and can loosely be described as the practice of developing communities of engagement to develop ideas, activities and outputs for commercial and social benefit.”
Jeremiah Owyang talks about the shift in 2010 toward more social business models. He talks about how large global brands are re-organizing themselves, and spending big money on social media.
A thought-provoking manifesto and call-to-action for more socially-conscious and engaged business models.
The annual social business summit is worth attending. Influential speakers include Tony Hsieh from Zappos, Josh Bernoff from Forester and JP Rangaswami from Salesforce.
“Social Business Design is the intentional creation of dynamic and socially calibrated systems, process, and culture. The goal: improving value exchange among constituents.” Social business consultation firm Dacchis has written a must-read whitepaper on Social Business Design.
B2B business expert Jeremy Victor answers the question, “What is the evolutionary process that a business must go through to become a social business?”
Never underestimate the power of a great idea, a carefully thought out plan, a passionate execution and little bit of word of mouth. The last thing the world needs right now is more self-serving business models that don’t provide lasting value to their customers. Those who figure out Social Business Design will develop the companies that continue to grow and prosper well into the future.
Digital agency Edelman’s approach and methodology for doing business in a connected age.
The image used at the top is the Social Media Prism by Ethority.