What is a Social Business?

Social business is a business that makes its value creation process open for external participation. Typically, a value creation process involves three phases: defining/designing what is value (pre-development phase), committing resources to produce (development phase), and marketing the product/service, providing support to customers (post-development phase). A social business involves “external people” in all these stages.

I am sure this definition is not complete. But it serves the purpose of emphasizing the point that customers and external stakeholders too should be involved in defining and creating a business value. After all, a sort of “democratization” appears to be the key impact of social media or social technology.

Think of Pipeline, not Funnel

Social media is not just for marketing. These days “social” means social media, and social media is associated straight with marketing. We create content about our product or services, publish it on Facebook, and calculate how many have liked it, shared it, and ultimately bought it. It all boils down to the conversion rate. Makes business sense! Hence, most strategies suggest us to align social media metrics with the marketing funnel. The growth of the small business will be effective with the involvement of social networking sites. Buy Instagram likes from us and improve the exposure of your Instagramthe caption is used through the licensed websites. The charges will be less for the purchase of the followers. 

Of course, using social channels for marketing is important. However, social can also mean entire business – all aspects of creation of a product/service. We can align our social media efforts with product development pipeline, rather than just marketing tunnel.That’s social business – the process of making open the value creation process for the participation of external stakeholders.

There is nothing earth shattering. It is just about integrating the multiple ways businesses use social media such as social media listening, social product development, and community building that cover different phases of value creation process.

An end-to-end social strategy proposes systematic capturing of the world of ideas from social media conversations, strategic enlisting of the participation of people with the right skills and resources for collaboration, and ultimately co-creating a product using social platforms – and also, nurturing the external eco-system as a community that would provide support to its user members.Opening value creation process for the participation of external stakeholders is not easy, but it is done even in a highly complex auto industry.

WOW 360 Products: Business Case for Social Business

Now, why should you do that? Why should there be idea contests and developer challenges? Simply to wow customers – the market stakeholders, as well as social and environmental stakeholders with unthinkable products! Wow 360. When over 80% of products fail in market, companies also have a direct business case to solicit suggestions from customers and other external constituents on the likeability of a product, before committing the scarce and limited resources to production.

Responsible use of resources is a business imperative. Traditionally, the design brief usually aims at making a product faster, cheaper and better. However, in co-creative innovation, the design brief handed out to prototyping and production, is evolved “collectively” to address “collective issues” with external stakeholders. The three broad influencers of a collective brief are: market requirements (time-cost-quality), social requirements (inclusiveness), and environmental requirements (sustainability).

The challenge of a social business then starts with effecting a change in the mindset to treat every customer as co-creator. In many mainstream business conversations, consumers still represent numbers: some demographic data. They are there to buy – maybe to bargain and buy. However, this attitude is not fit for social media age that is making one-to-one conversation and collaboration possible, effective, feasible, and desirable.