Let’s Talk About Social Business

Social business or social crm

This post is by Joey Strawn from Social CRM Insider.

There’s an old example many of my teachers used growing up to display a number of different points.

My teacher would show a jar on a table surrounded by a plethora of different-sized rocks. The task is to get all of the rocks into the one jar. No matter how you try, the only way that works is to put all the big rocks in first, then the medium-sized rocks, then fill the rest of the space with the pebbles.

The point of the exercise is to show the importance of priorities and how to organize your life.

Priorities are key to school, life and, of course, business. We’re going to talk about a major rock today that you need to have an understanding of if you’re going to be bringing in a Social CRM to your company or brand: Social Business.

We’re putting our normal curriculum aside today to address the issue of Social Business which, as you’ll find out, I feel is a larger goal than purely Social CRM.

Building a Business That’s Social

In her book Get Bold, Sandy Carter defines a “Social Business” as the following:

At its core, a Social Business is a company that is engaged, transparent, and nimble. A Social Business is one that understands how to embrace social technology, use it, get value from it, and manage the risk around it. A Social Business embeds social tools in all its processes, and for both employees and clients–the entire ecosystem. A leadership company explores the social techniques that really matter to its business with a sympathetic approach, by creating a bold, unique Social Business agenda.

That’s one of the best definitions I’ve ever read and I highly suggest Sandy’s book to anyone who cares about creating a business that works with its customers. I’m not going to fill more in with what she said, but I am going to give you a couple seconds to read it again and take it all in……..


Social Business is important and it’s vital to your brand surviving the next 15-20 years intact. I’m not going to dispute the fact that everyone needs to be paying attention to this phenomenon, but does Social Business makes Social CRM obsolete?

Social CRM vs Social Business?

A few weeks back, Michael Brito had a wonderful post focusing on this very question. Does the importance and eventual necessity of Social Business negate the need for a focus on Social CRM, or should it all be wrapped up into the same idea and eventually just be called “business as usual?”

Honestly, I agree with Michael’s post in almost every way, even though it seems at first glace we would be in disagreement.

While I may not totally agree completely on every single semantic, I think we will get to a point where Social CRM in the larger context of a Social Business is not only necessary, but expected. If you aren’t starting now with your plans, you will be left behind and a Social CRM is part of that emerging business.

Where Michael and I differ is that I believe it’s not as important to shift focus away from the components that make up a Social Business, with Social CRM being a part of that. Just as 50-60 years ago marketing was a new idea, 60 years before that the telephone was a new idea – but both are now “standard operating procedure” in successful companies.

We will always have to understands the components of what we do for the good of our brands and users, while at the same time understanding the larger pictures that encompass all those little things.

Social CRM may be a little component at this point and in the future be a natural aspect of all companies, but we’ll still be supplying top-notch Social CRM advice, innovations, trends, topics and strategies to help your businesses understand it now and in the future.

What do you think? Is there still a place to discuss smaller components of Social Business? Do you agree with Michael that Social Business will eventually be just “business”? Where does Social CRM fit in?


  • This post originally appeared on Social CRM Insider, part of the Jugnoo family of apps and publications to help people and businesses make the social web simple, accessible and monetizable. Joey Strawn is the Blogger in Residence at Social CRM Insider. You can read more posts here, and make sure to subscribe for the latest updates from Joey.
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  1. Leon says

    Leon 101 pts
    G’Day Joey,
    As a relative newbie to web marketing, I never cease to be amazed at the amount of wheel reinvention that occurs in the blogosphere. My first  book was published in England in 1984. It was called “The Social Manager: Let’s Stop Playing at Management Training.”
    Work is a social event. That’s why I claim that the basic human unit in the workplace is the team, not the individual. Joey, I’m not saying “I told you so.” But I am saying that business, by it’s very nature, is Social Business.
    I do become a little concerned when I find that some people  think that  “social” means “sociable”  I notice from LinkedIn that innumerable people still want to debate things like the difference between “leadershio” and “management” rather than effective business performance.
    As I’ve been known to say on equally innumerable occasions, “marketing isn’t everything; but everything is marketing.” David Ogilvy put it nicely when he said, “The consumer is not a moron. She is your wife.” And Peter Drucker said “the purpose of business is to create customers.”
    Perhaps we should stop reinventing wheels and rebuild the cart on the wheels that have been there for years. I’d still like to be the bloke who wrote the Shlicht beer commercial. That was genuine social business.
    Make sure you have fun.
    Best Wishes 

    • says

       @Leon I will agree that there has been a lot of wheel reinvention when it comes to the Internet, but it’s hard to ignore the reality that some walls have come down with the expansion, popularity and adoption of social media. I’m not too terribly old, yet I remember a time that if you had a gripe with a company or a question, your only recourse was to send a letter or call them on the phone and pray you wouldn’t get lost in some phone tree. 
      Yes, all business SHOULD be Social Business, but sadly that’s not the reality and hasn’t been until about 15-20 years ago. Saying all business is Social Business is like saying that all people are nice and friendly: it’s the way things work best, but some people are still just dicks that you can’t talk to. 
      How a company presents itself has always been important, but now companies are ALWAYS presenting themselves and that’s the main difference. I couldn’t agree more that a lot of time people argue too much over the semantics of it and I knew that going into this post, but the reality is that businesses need to take into consideration the amount of information about their customer bases they have available online and use that to the best of their abilities to create experiences that are dually based on sustaining businesses and thoroughly meeting their clients’ needs.

      • Leon says

         @joey_strawn Joey , Maybe I didn’t make myself clear. I was simply trying to point out that business, by it’s very nature, is “social.”  The internet merely allows us to handle that reality with improved tools. I could rattle off the names of many companies that have been meeting their “social”  obligations for decades. They were way ahead of the curve 50 years ago.
        Back in the 1990s, an Australian book about internet marking included the following statement; “if you think this sounds like old-fashioned mail order, that’s because it is.” The tools today are brilliant. That’s the difference.
        Joey, there’ll always be “dicks you can’t talk to.” So don’t talk to them. You’re not part of The Great Social Business Crusade lead by The Internet Brigade.
        But  this “curmudgeon from Down Unda” wrote a book about it nearly 30 years ago. And I wasn’t the first to point it out. Please forgive me if  I raise mild objections when social business is presented as the greatest thing since sliced bread and ice-cream cake.
        The good news Joey is that  I’ll avoid the issue of whether the social business promoters understand how to use it to successfully improve business results. We’ll save that for another time.
        Make sure you have fun.
        Best Wishes

        • says

           @Leon I love your sentiment, and I really love your commentary on people discussing philosophy over effectiveness. However, I would (sadly) argue that while business at its core *could* be social, and that social media enables that to be accomplished more effectively or in new ways, many (most?) companies have deliberately moved away from that path.
           Let’s face it, most companies – despite their public protestations to the contrary – don’t actually value customer service or building a close connection to their customers. If they did, they (a) wouldn’t make it so difficult and (b) would resource it appropriately. On the contrary, many are terrified of it.
          One of the biggest challenges with social media remains convincing companies – marketers, manager, PR people, leaders, etc – that “social” is desirable – that closer connections with customers can be beneficial.
          Even when you look around the companies that have adopted social media, many of them still treat it as a way to reach people with their messaging, while not giving a damn about what those people are saying in return (beyond how that lets them target their one-way messages even more). There’s little-to-no thought given to how to approach social media from a new perspective that moves from a zero-sum approach and towards a win/win scenario.
          So, while I really appreciate and agree with the sentiment that, at its core, business is social, my view is that in the majority of cases that nature is deliberately and deeply buried in favour of short-term focuses, which creates a need for the kind of thinking that @joey_strawn is illustrating here.
          My two (stretched-out) cents.

        • says

           @davefleet  @Leon David, I think you summed that up perfectly. I too agree that business at its core is social, but it does feel that that core is being ignored in a lot of places. If it wasn’t companies like Zappos and L.L.Bean that take great care in their customer service wouldn’t been seen as these huge anomolies, but rather the norm. 
          Thanks for your two cents. 

        • Leon says

           @davefleet  @joey_strawn Dave, I’m not suggesting for a moment that all businesses are perfect when it comes to acting on their social obligations: or even that they’re not behaving “socially.”
          But I am asserting quite strongly that the current trendy promotion of “social business” is far from new and far more widespread than many of the current social business proponents suggest.
          Perhaps it’s appropriate to quote Mark Twain; “It’s not what you don’t know that gets you into trouble: it’s what you know for certain that just aint so.”.
          If we see Zappos and L.L Bean as admirable. that’s fine. They are praiseworthy. But the precedents they followed were decades old. They weren’t created by the emergence of the internet.
          That’s all. 
          Have fun too.
          Best Wishes

        • says

           @Leon  @davefleet Leon, I’ll agree with you again. These principles are decades old, so it’s always helpful for companies to be reminded of how things need to be in their essence and how they appear. 
          I by no means and trying to say that the idea of businesses needing to be social was brought about by the Internet, I’m just saying that the tools we have now should be making it easier. 
          The idea of faster travel has been around for centuries too, but it’s silly for people not to adopt the airplane when the tool emerged. That’s all I’m trying to be: an advocate for the tools making the principles business is supposed to be built on easier to manage for companies looking to get back to their “roots.”
          Thanks for keeping the discussion going!

  2. says

    Hi Joey and Danny (waves)
    I am a bit on @Leon ‘s side and I see a lot of this Social Business stuff going on. And it is very confusing. I have bashed the words Social Media many times. There is no such thing. But there is Social Enabling Communications Technologies that have grown from the basic cuneform writing from Sumeria. Which was the first ‘Social Media’.
    I see two sides of this discussion. First is a business that embraces and utilizes best in class communications technologies to improve operations, improve the flow of information with suppliers and customers etc, and improve internal communications will excel. How each company does this will be unique and most likely not repeatable due to many variables such as products, markets, org size etc.
    The second one which is where I find our peers being fairly deceitful. Some things all companies big and small can and should do…like Listening Dashboards and Data Gathering. But then due to variables such as org sizes and needs will determine where things like customer service and marketing fit in. A massive company that has to reach 10mil to 1bil people with marketing a week must use paid media. They have no choice. They never will have a choice. facebook ads are paid media (though they are only 20% as effective as standard digital). So while you can use Social technologies in your marketing efforts you can’t talk to millions of people a day. Same with customer service. You can’t service a customer base of millions using social media yet. Not without thousands of pages and accounts and employees. But you can use these technologies smartly. If ATT can service 2% of their Customer Service with a Facebook page vs them calling up that is a major savings. Or if maybe that 2% would never call up but since you have a page they come and get an answer or help thus making them happier to be your customer reducing account churn that is a major savings. But that still is just 2%.
    For a small business who can’t buy TV ads or pay for someone to answer phones an Owner can handle all this via Social Media easily and cheaply (minus cost of time) and get to know their customers better. So obviously one size doesn’t fit all.
    But I agree with Leon that all businesses are social. And Social Media is a combination of IT and Operations more than anything (including Marketing) since it is using technologies to grow your business.

    • says

       @HowieSPM I’ll get on board with you on the necessity to bash the term “social media” now and again. Although it does define a shift in communication protocol, it is thrown around too much nowadays and is too much of a “catch-all” phrase.
      To your point, I’m mainly trying to focus on the first side of the discussion you mentioned. I wrote this in hopes of helping businesses that are trying to do the right things and use best in class technologies and strategies to achieve their business goals. It’s true that each strategy and usage map will vary depending on the company objectives, size, budgets, etc, but every company will need the right tools on board to get the job done. That’s what I’m hoping to highlight: the understanding of how those granular things fit into the bigger picture and the tools/strategies that will get those companies to realizing that picture.
      Awesome comment! Thanks!

  3. says

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  4. Leon says

    Joey, Howie, Dave  
    We have to stop meeting like this. Marcus Sheridan will get jealous, Gini D will get anxious and the Celtic Newdaddy will get a swelled head because one of his blogs is generating so much comment.
    Not only that, but all this agreeing threatens to become tedious. 
    May I conclude my contribution with the words of the great John Wooden: “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”
    And here’s your assignment for the weekend. “Who’s this bloody Aussie curmudgeon think he is: quoting the words of perhaps the greatest basketball coach of all time?”  Discuss the relevance of his comments, especially in relation to the customer relations practices at Zappos, employee participation at Semco and staff ownership practices adopted by Fletcher Jones.  Marks will be deducted for using any word over three syllables or jargon requiring capital letters.
    Now that shuld be Great Fun!

  5. steveshultz says

    @DannyBrown thanks for sharing the great post by @joey_strawn Look forward to reading @sandy_carter ‘s book.

  6. says

    We do try to engage with our social account friends and followers just as much as we can.  For example, we post a summary of every single one of our blog posts (we post daily) on our Facebook page where we have a strong fan base (currently more than 8,500).  When we do that, we try to capture the essence of the article we wrote, in no more than 150 characters.  We find that a good number of our Facebook friends like what we have posted and either “like” it on the Facebook page or click to read the full article on our blog and some of them “like” it there.  Additionally, we ask every new follower of our Twitter account to visit our Facebook page and many of them do.  I hope that some of you would find these techniques helpful.

  7. says

    I would have to totally agree. We are all in the social circle no matter what. We have the information of millions going around the web and posting it in different places. Now that’s what really gets thing explored and found.