Just because organizations have begun to embrace social media, it doesn’t necessarily make them a social business. In Michael Brito’s new book Smart Business, Social Business: A Playbook for Social Media in Your Organization, the differences between social brands and social business are defined, and the ways that organizations must internally connect before they can externally engage with customers are explained.

The Evolution of Social Business

Brito makes his intentions very clear. This isn’t a book about social media marketing or how to become a social brand. Rather it’s about how to evolve your organization into a social business by learning how to incorporate social elements into your business, communications and employee management. According to Brito,

For this evolution to take place, organizations need to adopt social behaviors in every aspect of their business.

Of course, actually doing it takes more than just rewriting policies or mandating effective communication strategies. No, in order to incorporate social behaviors, it requires that you take a closer look at how your organization works, from the inside out.

Social Business: a Top-Down Directive or a Grassroots Revolution?

The problem with a book that that says it for business leaders as well as marketers is that you eventually leave part of your audience unsatisfied and the other half overwhelmed. While Smart Business, Social Business is careful not to make the process too difficult or easy, it approaches changing an organization’s culture from the perspective of the bottom line, rather than from employee empowerment. Brito writes,

The drive to become a social business requires a cultural shift that starts at the core of the organization, with the leaders who represent the brand. If the entire organization can be convinced that a smart business is a social business that builds processes, infrastructures, and programs with the customer in mind, it will begin to see positive change both internally and externally.

If social media is all about transparency, it seems kind of dishonest to dismiss the ways that social business impacts how employees will benefit from enhanced social processes.

For Brito, social business was borne out of the rise of the social customer and the development of the social brand. Social business is an attempt to help organizations “operationalize social media internally to be a collaborative social business.” While this may be partially true, it ignores the fact that social customers and employees are the same. With increased accessibility and accessibility of smartphones and other social technologies, employees are no longer willing to work in silos or behind firewalls. Social business has been grassroots revolution -- not a top down implementation. Yet, Brito’s approach makes it seem as if it is. For business leaders this may be an easy sell, because it gives them more control over the process.  

Governing Social Business

Employee empowerment aside, Smart Business, Social Business is helpful in guiding marketers through the fundamentals of community management, as well as how to develop effective governance, guidelines and process documentation.

In fact, an entire chapter dedicated to establishing a governance model is not only thorough, but insightful and should probably be shared within all organizations. Lest you think that governance is only for regulated industries, Brito makes it very clear that having a well defined governance policy for employee social media usage is in the best interest of employees, as well as companies. And though he cites many examples of basic social media policies, Brito effectively explains that

Every social media policy is different, determined by the organization's culture and value system. However, some key points should always be present... 

Monitoring Managing and Measuring Engagement

Brito focuses on the various social technologies that can serve to monitor customer engagement and metrics, as well as manage customer relations. He even highlights specific vendors within the space. While helpful, this type of information evolves so rapidly that readers would be better served by having this information available online, with updates made as needed.

No social business book would be complete without mention of ROI. After all, that’s one of the main reasons many business are intrigued by social media and behaviors. Brito is successful in his attempt to make it less about achieving the perfecting equation, and more about effectively defining the key elements of a measurement philosophy.

Overall, Smart Business, Social Business is an effective tool for anyone wanting to implement critical elements of social business so as to leverage customer engagement, while improving business processes. As a social media strategist, I know that I will be sharing parts of this book with my clients to help them better outline their goals and communications strategies with customers and employees alike.