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Moving from Social Media to Social Business

Thanks to Diane and company for giving me an opportunity to share thoughts with you via Verbatim. I’ve been following Communispace since 2006, when I covered social computing as a research analyst; now I see the value of what the company is doing through a lens of social business design.

Over the past decade, we’ve been witnessing the rise of social media. While we are fundamentally social beings, technology advances and cultural preferences have driven proliferation of these behaviors online. The series of tubes that carry data are wider and reach further than ever. Moore’s law still holds true, as does Metcalf’s—to which 400 million Facebook users across a variety of platforms can attest. We have become conditioned to share opinions on anything and everything in our new digital forums, salons, and echo chambers.

At the same time, many of us seem to have realized that pursuing work/life balance ends up as corporate Samsara. Instead, we’ve intertwined work and life to the extent that we do what we love and love what we do. (Or perhaps have gotten much better at fooling ourselves about it.) Along the way, we started bringing our toys to work and realized that our personal technology was better than the company’s.

Good businesses follow the action and most brands finally realize that these trends can be harnessed for commercial benefit. But using social media for business is easier said than done—so far, many brands have been tacking on social real estate to campaigns the same way they’ve been doing with digital microsites and banner ads. To make social media work, businesses must participate in this space differently than consumers; in other words, they’ve got to take a social business approach.

I think Communispace provides a great example in helping companies participate in social business. Using a framework developed by Dachis Group, here’s how I see the company creating social business value:

  • The Ecosystem. Providing connections with prospects and customers to help extend organizational functions beyond those on the payroll, e.g. marketing research.
  • The Hivemind. Allowing brands to become more culturally calibrated with their customers. Understanding motivations paves the way for social calibration.
  • The Dynamic Signal. Bringing out insight from previously unheard voices. The silos in existing listening processes prevent weak signals from being heard.
  • The Metafilter. Moderating discussion and drawing out signals from noise. Listening requires a balance of automated filtering and manual curation.

It’s time to shift from social media and get down to social business. Finding the right partners to help you get there matters.

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