What is social business? This definition continues to evolve with the winds of time and technology. However, there is some consensus around the idea that social business is about using social media to interact with the marketplace. This involves both customer feedback and marketing methods. A recent study conducted by FedEx in conjunction with Ketchum (not the town in Idaho but rather a PR group), showed that the “value and reach” of social media continue to grow, expanding into brand management and more. In short, all business is social business. And some day a study will tell us something we might not have suspected. Also, it could be argued that some business are still the equivalent of Luddites when it comes to social media but that’s not the case with such notable brands as P & G, IBM and General Mills, among others. Is it necessary for all brands to incorporate social media? Well, “necessary” is a strong word but it is difficult to find a major brand that’s not going social.
The original study in 2010 showed that brands were using social media mainly to generate advocacy, encourage customer loyalty and handle customer service issues. Now, the emphasis is more on creating a dialogue between brand and customer, strengthening relationships and increasing participation in various incentive programs – which seems somewhat similar to loyalty programs. If we think of successful businesses as those who use all available tools to maintain and increase their customer base then the social business concept is about adding social media tools to the mix. The dilemma is that social media is more transparent with a tendency to get out of control very easily. Social media puts the communication in the hands of individuals which ultimately makes it more difficult for companies to manage the message as they engage in social business. And all of it is difficult to measure.