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Social Business Is About Productivity

I throw my hands up in the air sometimes when I read about social media as some new paradigm of marketing. The connections afforded with a networked community do pose challenges to the way we communicate with customers, prospects, and internal staff, but that's not where social media currently resides.

Social media is a public phenomenon, but no one pays for something that occurs naturally. Like it or not, your goal as a social business consultant needs to be on the company - altering internal habits in a way that lays the groundwork for different divisions within your client to take advantage of information about product, services, and competitors. Most social media consultants focus on content and profile creation in the hope that user inertia will create conversions of some kind.

You create a Facebook post. User reads it and forwards it to friend. Friend buys. ROI! This is 99% of what I'm reading in social media consulting. Some are smart enough to talk about conversion and calls to actions (those from search marketing), but if you search through the pages, you'll find very little of that. The areas you do see good integration are where social-savvy employees add the tools to their current jobs, which is why recruiters take to LinkedIn so well.

Social media is not just marketing.  The real value lies in the productivity an employee gains from being tightly networked to their industry.  No matter how good the strategy, the employee won't follow it if they aren't persuaded to change their work habits. 

Social media may best be understood as a public movement, but social business is about altering the way we do business, and right now, that's where much of the money companies should be spending on social needs to go. We need internal expertise in a company that takes into account how that company sells, markets, hires, and communicates. Outside strategies and strategists may be brilliant, but if you can't apply that information internally and hold the employees responsible for learning and applying what they learn, you're not really doing anything other than glorified copywriting.