Social Media and Social Business – what do we mean?

Social media, social businessAs we move into a world where “social” is put on every HR and marketing strategy, much like “i” has been put on technology, are we at a risk of over complicating and confusing people.

We are in the early hours of a new revolution, and I fear that many people are using what they consider to be “cool” or “sexy” titles rather than describing what is happening

Social – It’s not the emperors new clothes

There really is a sea change happening in the way we communicate – and this tide cannot be changed.

On the Harvard Business Review (HBR) site,  Nilofer Merchant has looked at the differences between many of the current terms being used. On her blog What we talk about when we talk social she provides this really neat summary of terms and origins

Social Media
Chris Shipley and ClueTrain Manifesto
Moving marketing from a monologue to a dialogue.
Enterprise 2.0
Andrew McAfee
Tools can speed information flow and tear down siloes.
Social Business (1.0)
Mohammed Yunus
Make profits and meaning (at the same time). (Also referred to as Social Innovation or Social Entrepreneurship.)
CrowdSourcing / Open Innovation
Jeff Howe / Henry Chesborough
Leverage others to create value for you.
Social Business (2.0)
Peter Kim (and Dachis organization)
By being more connected, (i.e. using social tools), a company can generate greater value to all its constituents.
Social Era
Nilofer Merchant
Connected individuals can now do what once only large centralized organizations could do, which changes organizational structures and individual power.


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Getting the language right

In HR, unless we are talking about recruitment, then we should technically be looking at social business, not social media. Our goal is to enable people to connect and collaborate. To add value and most importantly to deliver what the business does in faster, better ways than ever before.

As we approach the end of the first decade of social media, its time to stop focussing on the tools, there are many that work, and to start to concentrate bon the culture in which we need them to operate, and the skills and attitudes people need to harness it

It’s more than skills silly

One major global firm I have been working with is a great example. Their people have the skills to use many forms of technology, but the attitude of some parts of the business (culture) inhibits its people from fully engaging and adding value. Some parts are thriving on new ways of working, others are doing the same old thing, just using different tools.

Remember Lotus Suite?

There was a time when Microsoft was not king of the office suite. There was a strong competitor, Lotus suite. A powerful suite of many programmes, including the father of the spreadsheet – Lotus 123 and the daddy of presentation – Freelance. But the real gem of the package is its collaboration tools. But alas, most firms that use the software at the time did not have internet of networks to allow true collaboration. So the product was too much too early. Where are they now.

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So the tools have been here for a very long time – but we need to learn to adapt.

Power is with the crowd, not the hierarchy  We needs to engage people, and allow and enable them to collaborate and develop our businesses.

Use the right tool, and language for the job

Use Social in both business and media appropriately – avoid confusing people


About Mike Morrison

Mike Morrison is founder of RapidBI
Mike is a consultant and change agent specialising in developing skills in senior people to increase organizational performance.
Mike is also founder & director of RapidBI, an organizational effectiveness consultancy.
Check out his linkedin profile

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