There you are at the office, deftly switching between sending status updates, uploading documents, commenting on projects and responding to emails. You collaborate! You engage! You’re the epitome of Social Business! And yet, you feel no more connected to colleagues or consumers than you did before, and productivity is still crawling. It’s an increasingly common circumstance that begs the question: Why can’t we figure this out?

We Can’t Learn What We Already Know

By now we’ve all surely heard that success in Social Business starts with people. It’s a simple, direct, and for all intents and purposes, true claim. But culture change is hard, and it can be especially tricky under the impression that the destination is unfamiliar territory.

Ask yourself what you know about meaningful relationships and unless you’re brand new to the human race (in which case, welcome!), you’ll likely conclude that they take time and trust to develop. It’s common knowledge, and yet so many of us are crippled with worry when we’re not zooming by our competitors on a magic collaboration carpet ride immediately after implementing a social strategy.

Keep Calm and Carry On

Real life relationships aren’t plug and play and neither is Social Business. No tool, layer or suite that hints at instant gratification can actually provide that because, if you can turn it off, unplug it or disengage in an instant, then how much can it really be changing your culture?

Achieving major change with existing assets takes time, plain and simple. One can’t simply dismiss everyone and assume a clean slate is going to get them to where they want to be faster. In fact, without already-established relationships, "fresh" starts could end up taking even longer to pick up momentum. 

This not to say that tools don’t help the cause; only that regardless of your approach, what you’re looking for isn’t an overnight transformation. What you really want Social Business initiatives to accomplish is an effect on behavior and the forming of real connections. As your business grows, those results will organically grow with it.

Hey, Human!

Admittedly, it feels a bit silly to write about the importance of being ourselves -- probably to the same degree that reading about it makes you feel. (After all, each one of us was born human, so shouldn’t we know how to act human?) But that’s really what it’s about. And maybe it’s one of those things that are so obvious they’re often overlooked.

So stop overlooking. Organizations have spent decades operating like machines, and employees haven't traditionally been inspired to behave like anything more than cogs (note the familiar cop-out, Hey, I just work here.). But social media in the workplace is bringing us back to ourselves. We're being given direct lines to each other and the complete transparency required to make those connections courteous, forgiving and genuine.

The key is to be willing to take your time with it, regardless of whether you're trying to pump up internal or externally facing communications. And, more importantly, to practice what you preach. In other words, be the change you want to see in your organization.