We’re really hung up on technology these days. And jargon. We use terms like “social media” to describe a range of practices – from digital communications to any form of customer-centered marketing that embraces the ways in which people interact, inform themselves, form communities and co-create within the current zeitgeist. Then we mix it up with terms like “social business,” tending to again describe a range of meanings – from…. social enterprise to digital business to social ecosystem to social sales.
We’re confusing the heck out of ourselves, and it’s contributing to fuzzy thinking. It doesn’t so much matter what we call it, as long as we avoid common mistakes and get buy-in from our stakeholders that’s based on tangible, perceived benefits. You say potato; I say potahto. What we should be able to agree on is that it’s not simply a matter of technology.
Make no mistake — we’re in the midst of a digital revolution that has fundamentally altered the ways people communicate and do business. There’s been an explosion of internet connectivity in the past decade. Social media is an important tool in today’s world. If we ignore this, we risk becoming irrelevant. However, using social media does not ipso facto make you a “social business”.
When we apply social media with ignorance it’s not much better than ignoring it entirely. For profit businesses do this as much as nonprofits. In fact, they could learn a lot from nonprofits about the human dimensions of success – values, relationships and people. The very definition of philanthropy – the social benefit sector’s financial engine – is “love of humankind.”
Because of the digital revolution we’re all social businesses now, whether we accept it or not. We must accept. We must adapt. There’s no choice. We must move beyond outbound “telling” marketing to “inbound” sharing marketing. We must source the wisdom of the crowd, and shift our focus from outcomes to value.
What Fortune 500 Community Managers Can Learn from Nonprofits about Social Business, my monthly guest post on the Windmill Networking Blog, is all about the evolution we all face. It’s about how to be more social. How to build better relationships. How to get clear on the values that connect us and our constituents.
Please check out the article, with the actionable tips and checklist, and let me know what you think.
Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Chris Beckett