It seems like you can’t go a day without seeing another story on social networks, social media, social marketing…the list goes on and on. Although sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have been around for years, businesses are just starting to figure out how social plays a role in their business.

To date everyone has been clamoring to build a presence. The focus has been on marketing activity but lacked the tie to true businesses objectives. Many marketers got a pass on the measurability of social with excuses like “it is simply too new”, “we can’t be left behind” or “there is no way to measure the impact.”

In my opinion, we are exiting a time of social media experimentation and moving into an era of Social Business. Organizations (and not just marketers) will seek to integrate social into the business but must do so in a measured fashion, with alignment to the core objectives. The time has come for organizations to realize that “social” is not a tactic, it is strategic to the business. That concept will scare many executives. Those executives will take the path of their counterparts that missed the wave created by e-Commerce. Meanwhile, the innovators will recognize the opportunity, build successful programs and set their business on a new path as a result.

Before we go any further lets take a minute to define Social Business. While the definition is simple, the execution can be challenging without the right sponsorship, alignment and technology.

Social Business:  Cultivating relationships to drive measurable business results

In reality this concept is nothing new. However, the execution of social business has been turbo-charged thanks to the social platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. With these new channels, relationships become more visible, networks expand, insight gets driven from information and as a result relationships become more effective and our ability to tap into their power becomes more efficient.

Now before you start thinking that this “social thing” is a fad let me remind you of a few statistics:

  • Facebook now has over 650mm members and those members make 80,000 wall posts and 500,000 comments every minute.
  • LinkedIn has surpassed the 100mm member mark and is growing faster than ever (and they are going public this year)
  • Twitter has over 175mm users and continues to be the place where news breaks first

But let’s be clear – this isn’t about Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. This movement is all about people. The entire world is going social and these technologies are accelerating that movement. The new “Web” will made up of people, not sites. How will this change your business? Are you ready to capitalize on the opportunity?

For organizations, social does have a risk of falling by the wayside if you don’t take the proper steps to integrate it to your business. It all starts with defining the appropriate objectives, deploying programs to maximize results and having built in mechanisms to measure, analyze and improve.

If your team brings you friends & followers, push back and tell them you want relationships. If they bring you likes and re-tweets, push back and tell them you want business engagement. If they bring you sentiment and conversations, push back and tell them you want revenue. It’s imperative that businesses take social initiatives to the next level by moving beyond indirect metrics and start tying results to the bottom line.

Article reprinted from Socialware