Social Business Requires Social People

Post by Ray 5 years ago - Social Business - 7 Comments

If I had one wish for 2013 (apart from world peace) it would be that consultants stop advising clients to do social media and instead advise them how to do business – with social media.

Social business has been “trending” this year and will even be a hotter topic in 2013. Lead by giant brands like IBM, the social culture that forms the foundation of a successful social business is at the heart of any good business, regardless of size.


Big or small, “social” fits all!

pneumatic tube message system



   A social culture is a web that connects all parts of the business.

   Dave Gray, author of The Connected Company (affiliate link), describes a “connected” company as one that is built around the customer as opposed to around  functional efficiencies.


The object of a social business is to optimize around creating better customer experiences across all the different touch points: product itself, marketing, service, sales.
It’s about listening first, creating insights with data, acting upon those insights and inviting the customer “into the fold” to figure out the future. – Maria Ogneva

One of the chief advantages that a social business has is “nimbleness”.

Because it connects directly with its clients, it can react to changes much quicker than a company that is inward looking and reacts only when the panic button is pressed.

To navigate through these torrents of social data, a company needs to nurture an internal culture of collaboration and innovation. It has to encourage “intraprenurship”.

Although by no means a small company, we can look at Google of an example of this.


In his recent blog post What Google+ Can Teach Us About Social, Jason Falls stated that:

“Google+ is not the focal point of the company’s efforts. It’s a fabric that ties many of Google’s products together.”

He cites a quote from Google VP, Bradley Horowitz:

Google+ was designed from its inception as a foundational, unifying layer that makes these (YouTube, Gmail, Drive etc.) already great services even greater. So Google+ is different. It’s not only an innovative new social network, it is also the identity, relationship and interest system for Google.


The great majority of companies aren’t the size of Google, IBM or even Zappos.

Owners of small companies have special challenges that involve finding enough time and resources to tend to their core missions, let alone updating a Facebook Page.

This is a big reason why so many flounder. Social media are seen as added workloads instead of opportunities.

Social needs to be integrated throughout the company and not simply shoved in the corner next to the filing cabinet in the marketing office.


Transitioning into a social business is a long process that involves assessment, strategy and a plan.

The first priority is to make sure the people representing the company are on board and share its vision.

A socially connected company nurtures innovation.


Here are 6 ways to create a social culture by developing social people.

(abridged from my post: Is Your Company Intrapreneur Friendly?)

Social Team at Kai Design

Kai Design & MEEX Team – Small company that’s big on “social”.

1. Communicate vision and strategy.

People feel more empowered if they know where they’re going and why they’re going there.

We can’t take for granted that everyone is as up to speed with social media platforms and applications. Many don’t understand the “why” let alone the “how”.

A lot of resistance comes from staff who are intimidated and overwhelmed by social media.

So as Julie Andrews sings: “Let’s start at the very beginning. It’s a very good place to start…”
Place social media inside the context of the whole social culture that the company wishes to adopt. Then explain the steps needed to get there starting with social media 101.

2. Empower visionaries.

People won’t stick their neck out if they’re afraid of having their head cut off!

Support, coach and protect PWI’s (people with ideas).

3. Come out of the cubicle.

There are few phrases that I detested more in my years in management than: “It’s not my job!”

This may have been relevant in a factory setting but not in a collaborative one.

This is not to say that we don’t take responsibilities for our own projects, but companies must encourage cross discipline projects and collaboration.

Only then will the company become greater than the sum of its parts.

4. Encourage risk and tolerate failure.

You can’t succeed without failure.

When those trying new ideas are punished for “mistakes,” two things go wrong:

(1) people stop experimenting, and

(2) mistakes are covered up.

5. Focus on customers.

Focusing how to better serve customers drives innovation.

Focusing on internal politics drives conservatism.

Not changing is the equivalent of standing still on a moving treadmill.

6. Be Social, Environmental and Ethically Responsible.

Companies with a strong commitment to being good corporate neighbours tend to be more sensitive to external changes.

This allows them to be able to react and innovate faster.

They also tend to attract the type of employee that has a greater commitment to serving customers and improving the world.


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About Ray Hiltz

Thanks for dropping by. I'm the Director of Digital Marketing for My background in business includes non-profit (performing arts), restaurants and Promotions. Having moved on from my own strategic consulting company, I now write about what interests me. So in this blog, you may read about my thoughts on marketing, health issues and business culture. You can follow me on Twitter @rayhiltz or @image24Call

7 Responses to “Social Business Requires Social People”

  1. Chris Heffer

    Hi Ray,
    I came across your post though my google alerts for “social business”. A lot of your views are very similar to my own. I will take some time to explore the rest of your articles.
    Hope you had a great Christmas

    • Chris Heffer Thank you, Chris. I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday. Looking forward to exchanging ideas in the new year.

  2. Laurence Smith

    Ray, I have just discovered you and your blog and am enjoying going back over your posts etc.
    Your line here: ‘Social Business Requires Social People’ hit me. Odd, but I hadn’t fully thought about social media in that way!
    There is an inherent danger that people/companies engaged in social media are actually replacing the social part of their lives and traditional businesses with online relationships. These relationships can so quickly become hollow.
    I deal with a lot of bands/musicians and in many cases they think posting a buy me/like me/watch me type of post on Facebook etc. is marketing. In the old days they’d have been up and down the country connecting with their audiences first hand.
    People need to acknowledge the ‘social’ tag and get out and engage, and at least understand that social media is about helping as well as receiving help.
    So if we phrase the question: Can unsociable people run social media campaigns? The answer must be no.

    • Laurence Smith You make an important point,  Lawrence. Being social on line on social media platforms should be seen as means to an end – that end being further engagement. 
      Your band mates are quite right. Too many companies use social media as a shiny new version of TV advertising.
      Nothing beats a real live ‘handshake” for making a connection. Hangouts or Skype are a decent second choice.
      Point being, you can’t behave like a brand and expect people to trust you, you need to behave as a person.
      Thanks for dropping by, Lawrence.

  3. People who have met you in person will know that you are very social. A People person. That is why you understand social so well. You also have a strong online presence and Social Media experience. So adding your business experience in top of that leads to being the perfect person to do business using Social Media.
    We knew from the start that we enjoyed being around people as much as we love our job. So we decided to mix them together, mostly without noticing, in the beginning. Then we started doing monthly events, and the rest is history, we now have a great network online, as well as offline. Thanks for mentioning us!

    • luislondon My pleasure, Luis and thank you for the kind words.
      Your example illustrates the importance of having people who understand the importance of engagement work in a company that hopes to evolve into a social business.

  4. People who have met you personally will know that you are absolutely Social. A People person. That is why you understand social so well. You have a strong online presence. So adding your business experience leads to being the perfect person to do business using Social Media.
    We knew from the start that we enjoyed being around people as much as we love our job. So we decided to mix them together, mostly without noticing, in the beginning. Then we started doing business and the rest is history. Thanks for mentioning us!


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