Social (yawn) Media – Social (what?) Business

The title sums it up: the term social media is a tad overused and social business is in theory happening but not really and who really gets it (other than Brian Solis)?

To start the conversation I want to highlight a few blog posts I’ve been reading by the “initiated”. They all just so happen to have been guest posts on Brian Solis’ blog as well as Brians’ two cents.

October of this year Chris Heuer wrote a guest blog on Brian Solis’ site with the title “Social Business is Dead! Long Live What’s Next”. In response Philip Sheldrake writes in November on the same blog: “Impatience is a Virtue: What’s Next for Social Business”. And then Brian Solis sums it up in December with: “Social Business in not Dead: New charts and data reveal the real evolution of social businesses”.

I took the liberty of curating Brian’s words a bit to get to the meat of it, as I see it:

“As an analyst tracking the evolution of social businesses and equally the cause and effect of digital transformation overall, I’m learning that the most advanced organizations see social not as a technology movement but instead one of culture and philosophy. Openness, collaboration, transparency, communication…these aren’t buzz words. Among those leading change, these words represent a way of business and it all starts with vision and the ability to see how relationships and experiences with customers and employees can improve or accomplish new and greater goals.” 

So, those are the guys who get it. On the other side of the playing field are: “Executives don’t think about tools they think about results. Aligning social and digital strategies with business objectives and priorities is the foundation for earning buy-in from the c-suite.”

He continues: “Here we are at the cusp of 2014, and businesses, and the strategists who lead social efforts, continue to struggle with sparking executive understanding, adoption, and leadership. The real story is about what’s happening beneath all that we see or think we see. So what’s obstructing the evolution of social business?”

And: “The challenge is that social media strategists may actually be hampering its potential by not helping executives see the bigger picture beyond the technology.” 

And, you guessed it; Brian Solis’company Altimeter Group has put together a presentation releasing the data from their latest report while integrating older data in comparison from 2010. The presentation is available as a free download on Slideshare.

I found it to be very interesting to see, as a companies social media interaction grow and staffing needs grow, budget allotments stay practically flat. One can only hope that, as social media gets integrated into a business, it’s no longer a separate line item but part and parcel of the bigger picture across the organizations structure.

I have been consulting on a documentary by way of putting together a budget and treatment and auditioning for the producer position and have been surprised by the questions raised about social media and outreach. The misconceptions are all around mistaking the tools, that is the technology, for content and driver.

Questions like: “It’s for free, so why is there a line item for Facebook and Twitter”, and: “I tried it and nothing happened”. To both of which I can only say; “bingo”, or: “exactly”.

Social media is a conversation and unless you engage there’s no response. And it’s more than just a conversation it needs to be an ongoing conversation, a conversation that adds value to both sides, be it in form of information, entertainment, monetary income, indirect income (more hits equal more advertising dollars), expertise, or knowledge.

Facebook pages, blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn profiles might all be accounts you can set up for free, but someone needs to set them up and someone needs to come up with content and someone needs to maintain them – regularly, very regularly – for your message to raise above the “noise” and be heard. This someone needs a salary. In addition many more someone’s’ are going to produce content for these social media sites and that content needs to be in synch with the organizations message AND with the interactions the organization is having with its customers, fan base and clients.

It needs to be a holistic approach – and I mean holistic not in a tree hugger kind of way, but in a way of embracing the social media conversation as part of the organization as a whole.

So, I the social business really “dead”? Only time will tell. Or are you of another opinion?

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