Friday, January 27, 2012

"Social business"--what does it mean to you?

We just read a mind-boggling, three-page blog post on What Social Business means. It was full of terms that we just don't use socially. We pulled this gem, in particular:
"[Social business] is a sociopolitical historical shift that is bigger, broader and much more fascinating."
We're going to be a lot more brief--and more understandable--than that.

First let's look at a business that's truly bought into the social business model.

IBM has crafted an entire strategy around not just using social media, but about ensuring that all of their employees understand what it means to be a truly social business. (IBM no longer sells directly to the consumer, so it has to pay added attention to what its employees want and feel.) Specifically, it's operating on a three different levels:
1. Engagement
2. Transparency
3. Nimbleness
We like this concept. We fully embrace the fact that businesses, even ones that are B-to-B, should be engaged with their employees and their customer base; that we should be as transparent as possible, and that we need to react well and fast to any opportunities and challenges that come our way.

But we don't think it's all that complicated, nor do we think it's all that revolutionary. Our vision is this: People first. That means customers and employees. And really, it can be illustrated at a micro level.

For instance, it used to be that you went out and bought something at a big box store, and that was the end of it. Now it works like this:

1. You're looking for an widget, so you ask your friends on Facebook what widgets they like the best.
2. Your friends recommend several options, but one stands out above all the others.
3. You go on to;;, and search for this particular widget.
4. You find a widget that's been highly recommended by other widget-experienced people, on sale from a seller with high recommendations from other widget-purchasers.
5. You order your widget. The widget-seller tells you when it ships.
6. You get your widget and are happy or sad or just enh about it, so you feed back directly to the widget-seller about your experience.

See? It's social all the way through. There is communication all the way through, and transparency too. At its best, this is the way business should work.

For us at The Hub, that means the following:
1. We maintain as much transparency as possible: Our green standards, for instance, are readily available to our clients.
2. We make sure our clients have ample opportunity to feed back to us about what we can do better.
3. We make sure our employees are encouraged to feed back to our leadership--and each other--about where we've gone right, and where we can do better.

How is your business social?