A Vision for Business

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We gather here for a discussion about the socialization of business communications. But it’s more than just that.

Really, corporations have a problem. They don’t listen to their marketplaces, control and push messages, and act in relative vacuums. As a result, the public doesn’t trust companies.

Many social media and marketing minds have envisioned how the Internet can make business better. In some cases, it already has.

Imagine a world where business can profit, but not just for the sake of their investors. Their profits result from bettering their communities by enabling buyers through great services and products that meet real needs. Companies engage with their stakeholders, and actually listen to them, evolving their offering to serve market demands.

To get there, companies really need to open up and interact with their constituents. They need to embrace community concepts. Social media can serve as a change agent to get there. When embraced in full, social media creates relational collaboration. Companies stop acting as forceful entities and start becoming service organizations.

Most organizations won’t embrace this kind of change. At least not yet. It’s too much of a stretch. But market leaders, competitive risk, and eventually poor financial performance can be great motivators.

Those that do make the change have an easier time of business. Indeed, they have a new pair of glasses, and view the world with much clearer perception. And it’s a better world for it.

A pipe dream? Maybe, but one worth working towards. One company, one communication at a time.

5 Replies to “A Vision for Business”

  1. That is what I think is the underlying “pain” and lesson of starting to interact with Social Media – the way it changes not just the tools you use to communication – but how you are communicating across the company as a whole.

    As I have been learning and evangelizing Social Media in my circles it has been intriguing to hear myself sound more like a sociologist than a web communications professional.

  2. I think there’s also the chance here for the smaller companies to steal a march on the big boys. It’s almost a repeat of the early rush to the web when visitors couldn’t tell how big a business was from its web site: every site occupied the same real estate. Now, a dynamic and agile company can exploit the potential for engaging in conversation in ways that are beyond the more process-heavy corporations.

    Of course, as Seth Godin suggests in Meatball Sundae, it comes down to what your company has to offer the market. Smaller companies have a better chance, I think, to redefine what they offer in the light of the conversation. The bigger companies will find it a lot harder to change, not just their practice of ignoring the customer, but also adapting their products and services to a more demanding market.

    There will be many in large corporations who ‘get it’ but who can’t fight their way through the bureaucracy to make it happen.

  3. It is funny how the World Wide Web can bring us back to our roots in being in business to serve our customers and understand their needs.

    Corporations have gotten too far from the reason they are in business.

    Social Media is very refreshing and is not a pipe dream.

  4. So how do you explain Apple’s incredible success over the past decade? They are the antithesis of an open, social organisation — and they’re thriving? Similarly, the team at 37signals often say that being completely open and customer-driven leads down a disastrous path.

    Some corporations may be far from the reason they’re in business, but certainly not all — not even most, I suspect — and while social media clearly has massive potential for harnessing the creative power of groups, it’s still not clear if or how that power serves organisations with their own (different) values and priorities.

    I think the biggest, short-term change will come when organisations embrace social media internally, so employees are communicating openly and effectively with each other.

    Unfortunately, most of these employees have no idea about social media, how it works, or the impact it has on the way they approach their work. But their kids do, so I figure it’s a 10-year problem, at most. When the social media generation are firmly settled in the workforce — they’ll have to pay their bills too, eventually — they’ll not only expect a social, collaborative environment to function properly, they’ll require one.

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