Published On: Sat, Feb 16th, 2013

Defining Social Business

Social business is undoubtedly emerging as a new and exciting discipline and whilst definitions (as is often the case) can be difficult to agree upon, one thing is certain; more and more businesses are exploring ways to ‘be’ social, rather than simply ‘do’ it.

I’m a firm believer that many of the arguments people were having about the value of social media for external activity have now largely been won, but there’s a new one on the horizon; the value to be gained from becoming a social business. There’s a huge opportunity to use social tools beyond marketing, customer service and internal collaboration.

Whilst these are important there is more to social business than that. It can go so much deeper and drive greater, more meaningful business results. Social tools, the data they capture and the insights which may be drawn can and should be used to enhance a range of functions including business intelligence, supply chain, knowledge management and R&D. All of these elements have the potential to transform the culture of a business into a more connected, more intelligent, social business.

Despite its name social business is not about tools. It can be easy to get bogged down in technology, but this is a distraction. The team at Edelman rightly point out that social business is about people, process and planning. As more organisations begin to experiment with the deployment of social tools inside the business we’ll see the tides change. The term ‘social’ will (thankfully) evolve from a word that has been hijacked by the marketing industry into something that is used throughout the organisation.

Back to the definition. Social business is all the encompassing term many of the leading lights have decided upon and Euan Semple used a great analogy when he spoke about the ludicrousy of being web 2.0 externally and 1.0 internally.

For me this encapsulates it perfectly. Social business is essentially about being social inside as well as out. It’s as simple as that. Its precise application however is still be defined. It’s continually growing and this aspect will be driven by technology, business demand and companies like IBM, Edelman and Dachis continuing to forge ahead.

If you’re interested in learning more about social business, check out this deck from Edelman:

Although, we shouldn’t get tied down in semantics, I’d be interested to hear your definition of social business in the comments section below.

About the Author

- Marketing Manager with a passion for inbound at HubSpot, Founder of Growth Hack Talks, Blogger at and Chief Quaffer at .

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  1. […] in context and dynamics. So, I see the major weakness of citizen / grassroots journalism in the social Web. It is in a potential inability to properly answer the most required question from the news formula […]

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