Scott McKain broke down the original use of the words “social” and “media” and arrived at the idea that social media is a means of communicating with those friends with whom you are allied. I like that, so I extended his original thoughts to define social media for business as:
Means of communicating with those friends with whom you are allied to continuously improve and grow your business.
Your business can’t grow without strong, loyal alliances. Social business goes beyond attempts to “friend” customers by embracing the reality that your employees and suppliers are also increasingly social, so your relationships with them are more critical than ever.
You are not entitled to alliances – you have to earn them over time. The best way to earn an ally is to first be one. If you want people to care about your business, your business has to care about them. That means you need to care about them.
Because your customers, employees, and suppliers are increasingly social, the good and bad news about you and your business spreads faster, farther, and has greater impact than ever before. If you shine, you will build a powerful community that wants your business to thrive, but if you suck, there is no place to hide.
New media – Twitter, Facebook, blogs – are tools that serve the alliance. Use the tools to strengthen your existing relationships and extend your alliances to new people and new places. Remember, the relationships are always personal, so make sure you really care first, and then use the tools to help you support and spread your sincere intentions.
Everyone is talking, and you can’t stop it. You need to come to grips with the fact that you earned everything they say about you- the good, the great, the bad, and the ugly. If you don’t like what they are saying, you need to give them a reason to say better things.
The new tools of social media in the hands of your delighted employees, suppliers, and customers represent a fundamental shift in the strategic landscape for your business. Social media for business is much more than marketing. It’s still very early, but if you continue sleeping through this paradigm shift, you are going to miss a tremendous opportunity.