For many organizations, social business is the name that shall not be spoken. It exists but no one really knows anything about how it’s done or by whom -- they just know that it’s there in some capacity and can we talk about something else, now? Despite best practices, white papers and case studies illustrating the merits of being more strategic and transparent about social media marketing, it’s hard to ignore that, in many companies, social is a dirty, often whispered word -- and I really think the boss can hear us talking about it, so pretend to laugh like I said something funny so he doesn’t get suspicious. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Let's Talk About Social

People should be talking about social. Of course, social media is just one component of being social. Social business is the umbrella under which social media, community engagement, customer service and enterprise collaboration fall. And as much as some companies would like to ignore it or pretend that their organizational culture is inherently social, more are facing the reality that they need to start getting social about social.

Last week, Michael Brito wrote about the emergence of the social business council and how “many organizations are forming 'councils' to help manage the chaos internally.”

Now, you might think the last thing an organization needs is another meeting of the powers-that-be to discuss stuff they don’t understand. After all, meetings are usually where good ideas go to die. But, let’s suppose you can bring together the people who can bring different social perspectives to the table. If you could assemble a team of human resources, legal, IT, marketing and customer relations to discuss the different elements that being social brings and how the organization can best prepare to handle them so that risk is minimized and productivity is enhanced, social might not be so scary.

It seems like a crazy idea to assemble a team of people who may have opposing views of what social is, what it does and why it is or isn’t necessary to an organization. And yet, by doing so, you’re laying the groundwork for a social business. In our most recent #socbiz Tweetjam, we acknowledged that the core elements of social business are people, process and technology, and that the first step is having the right leadership in place. A social business council incorporates both the core elements as well as gets the right people talking.

The First Rule of Social Club….

Now, of course, a social business council isn’t a magic bullet -- it will require accountability and a overarching business goal to help keep everyone focused, but it may help move things in the right direction. When people are start talking, knowledge is shared and the wheels of innovation start moving. For organizations in which employees must still look over their shoulder when talking about social, it will take longer to get there, but it's worth it.

To embody social, one must be social. So be social -- get up from your desk, take a walk around the office, sit with other people from other departments at lunch. Social business is as social business does (I'm running out of pop culture references...); if you're not actively engaged, the powers that be may not think there's a need to keep people connected.