Nov 30, 2011
By: Bruce Canales
What the heck is “Social Business”?
The first time I heard it was about 3 years ago when I was promoting an event for Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Muhammad Yunus.
“Social business is a business where you don’t feature at all. Everything is about others… how you could help others.” – Muhammad Yunus
In 2011, the core definition of social business remains the same. Everyone knows what business is right? In simple terms, it’s the exchange of a product or service for currency. Social is the interaction and exchange of information between multiple people. Combine the two you get: A business that profits from the interaction and exchange of information between people outside of their business.
Business in general is a very social activity. It has been for years with Chambers of Commerce, networking groups and networking events. 20 years ago, outside of these networking groups or organizations there was no real way to engage with your customer outside of your business. Today we have the internet. Through the use of social media, social networks and social tools it’s become relatively easy to share your thoughts and experiences about products and services with your friends, colleagues or the world which in turn, greatly influences others in making buying decisions. Now, doesn’t this sound familiar? “Word of Mouth”! Yes, it is a form of word of mouth but its become more of a “Social Word of Mouth”. Difference? Social Word of Mouth is track-able and cache-able! I could leave a review on a burger joint today and you will still be able to Google it 3 years from now. Reviews can be tracked and you also have the ability to respond.
Going back to Mr. Yunus, He mentioned something crazy “Everything is about others.”! Really? Having been in sales for over 15 years I always thought that success was all about going after the business. Making phone calls, sending out emails going to networking events… isn’t this the key to successful sales? In some businesses, it still is but most businesses have gone the route of Inbound Marketing instead of the traditional outbound. The purpose of inbound marketing is to create a community that genuinely has interest in your product or the information you are providing to them.
For example: I’m a web designer and I have a blog, Facebook fanpage, Twitter account and a Behance profile.
- On my blog I could provide insightful tips on what websites would work for businesses and maybe the importance of having a site for mobile devices.
- On my Facebook fanpage I could talk about behind the scenes of a webdesign firm or share new ideas of some personal projects.
- In Twitter I could tweet about my blog and Facebook fanpage activity or I could tweet about other blogs and news sources.
- On my Behance profile is where I will show case my work and also give some away. Free PSD files are great when you want to help out other designers.
Have you noticed the pattern yet? All these social channels are providing something FREE to my community. “Everything is about others”. What you are doing is keeping your community together and by doing this, you create social engagement between them. As long as you are active in your communities it will only be a matter of time before these prospects convert into sales. You are simply creating value in these communities and instead of chasing new business, new business will come to you when the time is right for THEM.
So now that you have an idea of what social business is, how does this benefit you, can you convert your business into a social business and how could this be done?
The benefits are tremendous! First of all, social media, social networks and social tools are mostly free so costs already is very attractive. Second, reaching thousands of people has never been easier. Traditional print would be very expensive and the conversion rate is very low. Today, everything can be monitored on the internet so you know exactly where your money is being spent.
Most businesses can become or have a partial social business element. Every successful business has customers and last I checked all these customers have the ability to communicate information. What social business does is uses this interaction and engagement between people to generate revenue. So how could this be done?
Here are 3 core elements that a social business should have:
Create Your Social Community
Do your research! Find out where your market is and social channels they are using to engage with each other. Study their behaviours and buying activities. There are tools out such as Think With Google that can provide accurate and real-time statistical data on various industries. Some of the more popular secure social media channels include: Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Linkedin, Youtube, Behance, FourSquare, Google+ and many, many others.
Once you have chosen and created your communities begin to invite people you know friends, family and colleagues. Join groups and networks that are in your industry or that are related to your industry. Once you are member find out what kind of information these group members would value the most. Provide this information by adding links to current discussions that lead to your new social community and encourage discussions that will entice people to share their thoughts. Finally, invite these members to join your social communities. Offer a free ebook or free product of some sort for signing up with your blog or social media channel. Finally, always participate in discussions. It establishes a connection and displays the sincerity of your involvement in the industry. If you are looking for where to add links look for sites with news sources such as Alltop to look for industry related news where you could provide your input and your links.
Be very open with your social business. Even though we talked a lot about providing free information you are still running a business. Every once in a while, promote your business to your communities display any media coverage, press release or product launch so you could display the growth and success of your business. If you really want to boost your social media business, promote incentive programs or affiliate programs. Openly tell your prospects that there is some sort of reward or payout structure for any secured transaction. Some businesses provide a in-store credit for secured referrals. Here is a fashion business that went viral using social media and social channel http://goo.gl/TgWij
Monitor Your Activity
This is all a waste of you can not monitor your results. By now, most of you are probably familiar with Google Analytics and Omniture (Now Adobe Site Catalyst) for monitoring your website or blog’s activity but there are also social media analytics tools available such as:
Don’t only track how many visitors you’re getting, track down where geographically they are coming from so you could strategize new marketing efforts in those areas.
If you think this is a lot of work and dedication, you are right! It is! That is why many businesses hire companies like HubSpot to do the inbound strategies for their social business. What ever you can’t handle, hire someone to do it for you. Having a carefully managed social business can provide huge benefits such as the possibility of going viral and getting hundreds of thousands of people to take notice and engage with your social business.
I leave you with this quote:
“If you are a socially conscious person, why don’t you run your business in a way that will help achieve social objectives?” – Muhammad Yunus.