It seems the whole discussion around the term “social business” is heating up these days.  Everyone seems to be talking about it but I don’t believe it’s such a new concept – we’ve just been distracted by the term “social media” for too long.  I’m a marketer turned social nut and I’ve always been trained to think in a ‘tactic’ mindset – integrating tactics so the marketing message is consistent and adds to brand impact.  Where marketers frequently go wrong when it comes to social media, in my experience, is treating is as another tactic on a checklist, adding a couple of tweets in amongst the emails, telemarketing calls and direct mailings.

It’s not that simple.

Social media is an enabler for a social business.  It’s turning marketing and business processes upside down.  It’s not about blasting messages far and wide hoping something will stick.  It’s about listening and engaging where prospects and customers are hanging out.  More importantly it’s about acting upon what’s heard.  It’s the place where ideas are born and exceptional service can be delivered!

This will be my message next week when I attend the IQPC CMO Exchange event in London where B2B and B2C organisations will be discussing the new “rules of engagement”.  I’m taking part in a panel discussion with Orange Group and BBC WorldWide to talk about the impact of social media on these rules and what organisations like SAP are doing to connect the brand more closely to the customer.  My views are closely aligned to some of the great posts that I’ve been reading just recently from some experts in the industry.  Here’s a summary.

First, this post from David Armano (@armano) who works for Edelman Digital.  He outlines what he believes are the Four Stages Of Social Business describing how organisations go from the Crawling stage where the focus is on building policies for employees and perhaps adding a few social tactics into the marketing mix.  The final stage is Flying where the whole organisation is social throughout listening to customers, asking them for input, building new products as a result, improving their services.  Social networking is integrated at every stage of the business.

Second, this post from Jeremiah Owyang (@owyang).  Jeremiah as always been a strategic thinker and a well respected expert in this field.  In this recent talk he gave in Australia he addresses social business for regulated industries.  He’s a super speaker but if you don’t have time to watch it, be sure to flick through the accompanying slides where he talks about the stages of social business along with some fantastic examples from Dell, Intel and Red Cross.  If you’re really interested in why Dell is a super social business, this article goes into more detail.

Finally, this post from Brian Solis (@briansolis) about the number one question that businesses forget to ask when it comes to social media…why?  I really like this post because Brian challenges businesses to think much broader about social media.  It’s not just about click-throughs and sentiment.  It’s how businesses listen to what the social customer saying and more importantly, doing something about it.  It’s about delivering exceptional experiences.  He lists 10 great questions a business should ask before embarking on social media.