Two years ago I attended the Gilbane conference in San Francisco, and among my clearest memories of the event  is how most business folk treated the word "social" as if it had crawled up someone's you know what, died, and then terrorized all of the enterprise as a zombie corpse. 

In other words, nobody liked it. They were horrified by it. Add the word "media" to it and you might as well have kissed all of your colleagues goodbye because social behavior adoption, or integrating with the likes of Facebook and Twitter was the same as saying, Hey employees! Waste your precious time! And be sure to take all of our private information and leak it to everyone you know!

Two years and several terms later, it seems we've finally settled on "Social Business" and aren't twitching at the sight of it. 

The Evolution

If you've found yourself a bit lost in all the hubbub, GetSatisfaction released this nifty infographic this week, which breaks down the current definition and state of social business, and gives us a view into the future:


Here are some key takeaways: 

  • By 2014 the market for social business tools, software and services is expected to reach US$ 4.6 billion dollars worldwide. These social business platforms cover areas such as social media, e-commerce and social technology.
  • In order to maximize the effectiveness of social business practices, they must occur within and outside an organization 
  • In a study of 900 U.S.-based executives, 53 percent think that their company will have to adapt and start using social business tools or they will fall behind their competitors. Meanwhile, roughly 57 percent think that their revenue or sales will increase after starting to use social business tools.
  • Industries of all types are engaged in social business practices, with Technology currently weighing in the heaviest (16%)

A Golden Age for the Underdogs 

Also notable about today's state of social business is how it seems to have been built and molded specifically for SMBs. Mostly this is because it's difficult for larger organizations to become social.

From an internal point of view, large players have a lot more to consider and a lot more to change. They have to break down silos and invent new processes, all while dealing with the roadblocks that come with having a large number of participants. While more people means more success for social networks like Facebook, applying the same formula to a business atmosphere doesn't yield the same results. From an external angle, it's more difficult to keep up a consistent message. Companies must work diligently to protect against the occasional erratic employee who isn't familiar enough with the organization’s vision to personify it. 

"Situating social media in high intensity areas of worker engagement and putting it in the flow of work is much more likely to result in substantial return on investment than large, horizontal deployments." wrote ZDNet's Dion Hinchcliffe. "Myopia on wide-scale adoption often masks the real utility that social media can bring in achieving better results to shared, team-based activity."

Meanwhile, small and medium businesses are building social processes right into their DNA. They know their customer, their customer knows them, they're engaged and everyone is, for the most part, happy. 

A virtual ton of third-party social business applications is out there for larger companies to utilize, as illustrated in the infographic, but there are still plenty of kinks to be worked out. I attempted to open some doors with a recent piece on rolling with the consumerization punches (4 Best Practices for Transitioning from Social Media to Social Business), but suggestions for the giants out there are welcome in the comments below. 

Also, this is the beginning of a weekly chat on SocBiz, so if there's anything particular you're dying to discuss, toss that into the comments below too. Until next Thursday!

Related News

  • Gartner released its ever-popular magic quadrant for Social CRM. We've got the scoop on both Leaders and Visionaries


  • Vibe Cloud, Vibe's supposed challenger in the enterprise collaboration pool, went to the happy place all tools go when they're killed off. 


  • Facebook bundled together the Ads, Pages and Insights API and debuted its Opens Marketing API Program this week. 


  • Meanwhille, Telligent unveiled a shiny and new version of the Telligent Community suite, providing users with the tools needed to create custom communities.