A social business is any company that has integrated and operationalized social media within every job function internally. A social business is built upon three pillars – people, process and technology. All three need to work independent of each other, yet need to be completely integrated into the DNA of the organizational culture. It requires employees to actually communicate — processes and governance models that help shape employee behavior online — and technology to facilitate collaboration across the organization.
At a basic level, traditional businesses trying to become social businesses are starting by implementing processes and technologies for capturing and harnessing social data and connecting that with the kinds of data we’re used to tracking. According to Jeremiah Owyang, these can be put into seven “buckets”:
- Demographic data – gleaned from social accounts
- Product data – from e-commerce
- Psychographic data – basically qualitative data, sentiment
- Behavioral data - from social sign-on and CRM systems
- Referral data – ratings and recommendations
- Location data – from geolocation apps like Foursquare
- Intention data – from wish lists and sites like Plancast
All of these kinds of data can (and traditionally have) been used by marketers to target their products and services. Whether we understand the newer kinds of data or not, it’s pretty obvious to make the connection that businesses now need to add all kinds of social data to whatever they already collect, in order to market better. But it’s a mistake to stop there with our understanding of social business.
On the one hand, social data evolves organically and unexpectedly. Technology vendors will always work hard try to find better ways to collect social data, but we all know just from trying to use various monitoring and SCRM tools that they aren’t, well, even remotely awesome. (Sorry.)
On the other hand, even the most awesome tools can’t automagically make us any smarter about aligning what we’re measuring with our objectives. It’s all well and good asking about the ROI of social media when we don’t particularly measure well the ROI of anything else we do. (In my humble opinion.)
So what’s my point? That social business at its core is about learning and evolving. It’s about paying attention to your online communities, your markets, your people, internally and externally. It’s about collecting data that tells you more about your business, your customers, your stakeholders, your products, your industry, your environment. It’s about using technology and improving processes internally and externally so you can LISTEN MORE and LISTEN BETTER. We all talk about “listening” on social media as a low-level, social media 101 skill – but it’s at the core of everything. And, of course, the point of listening is to figure out the rest. To learn and grow and evolve with your market. Bake listening into the way you work – truly bake it in – and you’ll be well on the path to becoming a social business.