New Social Business: Merely a Buzzword or Something Revolutionary?

A long time ago we talked about building communities. “If you build it, they will come,” was the concept, but it didn’t really pan out. And then we started on social media. Suddenly it’s all we were talking about. Social this, social media that, social media marketing and social media for business. In fact, if you listened to many of the marketing pundits you might think Social Media was a means all by itself.

Um, the problem is, that without revenue (sales) or cost savings (support) social media was just people talking, commenting, and giving LIKES on Facebook. And especially if you didn’t have an e-commerce play (noting for sale on your website) the *value* of social media has been questioned. “What’s the REAL ROI on Social Media?” became the rally cry of the business crowd.

Indeed, without some ROI social *media* is just media. There’s only broadcast (posts) and exchange (comments). And any marketing person knows that without direct measurable action, the success of any campaign is doubtful. Why would the CFO believe you if you don’t have the numbers to back it up.

You see, old school marketing sold us on ideas like, “For every $10 you spend on this campaign, you’re going to sell $100 more of your product.” And any excel spreadsheet user could do the analysis on those numbers once the campaign was underway. Are the sales going up accordingly?

Okay, enough history, now the new buzz is Social Business. What? I’m sort of laughing at some of my higher-up colleagues. When the marketing guys came up with a new buzz name for the same old thing. Now it’s Social Business. Not just media, not just social media for business, but true Social Business. Okay, let’s dissect it for just a second.

One of my favorite social media badasses is David Armano, EVP, Global Innovation & Integration at Edelman Digital.. And it’s his post that got me questioning all that I knew about social media to see if it measured up to Social Business. Let’s look at Mr. Amano’s latest post on Social Business.

Social Business by David Armano
click to read David’s post

So looking purely at David’s infographic, we have evolved into social media thus far, and the turning point is coming where we will start reaping the benefits of Social Business: Connected.; Adaptive; Intelligent.

Sounds good. But it doesn’t really sound different.

Here’s a quote, “Social business takes the foundation of social media and begins to build new economic models on top of it.” Indeed that does sound like something different. But David might be talking about something else, some other TYPE of business when he uses Kickstarter as his example.

Here’s another attempt at the definition: “Business models where new connections are formed to the benefit of both the business, customer and even employee and shareholders are a core tenet of “social business.”

Um, that sounds EXACTLY like social media.

So if I have this right what Armano and Dachis darlings Peter Kim and Dion Hinchcliffe have in mind is simply removing “media” and “marketing” from the old phrase “Social Media Marketing for Business.” Hmmm. Have we got us a new paradigm? I don’t think so.

I too have a copy of Peter Kim and Dion Hinchcliffe’s (Social Business by Design). I will take a quick read and let you know if I uncover any NEW structures to define Social Business.

Until then, I’m going to continue practicing Social Media Marketing for Business. I do admit, “Social Business” has an easier ring to it. And it’s better for Twitter, cause we’ve only got 140 characters. But is it NEW and EVOLUTIONARY? What part, exactly?

Call me skeptical. Open minded, but a bit tired of the new phrase and craze model that’s driven our social media hunters for so many years. Got Pinterest? Using it? For WHAT exactly? And how is that working out for you?

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. ATX in the house! Nice post. Chuck Hemann and I had a quick twitter exchange about the terms “Social CRM” and “Social Business” yesterday. Our conclusion – both are “bunky” but they each have merits. To give credit where credit is due, Jeff Dachis was the first person I heard use the term “social business”. Jeff used it when he guest lectured for my social media strategy class I taught in the fall of 2008 at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas. Jeff’s premise was that enterprises would use social communication and tools to improve internal business processes. Kudos to Jeff on his vision.

    1. Ken, Thanks for your comment. I like it, I’m just not sure coining a phrase makes for a new revolution in social media. More likely, it generates more confusion and snake oil references.

  2. Thanks for sorting through the “SB”
    world of rationale.

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