On Social Media Becoming Social Business | Harvard Business Review

by David Armano

For a clue to social media’s future, we need not look much further than Washington. On the one hand, you have “Weinergate,” former NY Senator Anthony Weiner’s Twitter fiasco, which was essentially user error. He failed to negotiate the thin line between digital communication and social communication, between private and public.

On the other hand you have President Obama‘s announcement that he will do his own Tweeting. I’m fairly confident that while Obama may be the one that hits the “Tweet” button, it’s highly unlikely that his tweets will go out into the wild without planning and, for the lack of a better word, design. He’s no Anthony Weiner.

These two events signal the shift that’s coming. The age of social media as something spontaneous that reflects how we behave in the real world (the Weiner approach) is coming to an end. We are entering an age of social business: a purposeful, planned, orchestrated, and integrated way of doing business in a social context which may feel personal to the outside world but combine complexities internally within organizations that will need navigating. As further evidence to the shift, one can look to technology for yet another clue.

Over the past several years, forward-thinking companies have begun to understand the value of monitoring conversations, so they have purchased software licenses from platforms like Radian 6. Recently, Enterprise software behemoth Salesforce acquired the startup, sending the signal that listening to social conversations is only one slice of the bigger pie for business. The true opportunity lies in scaling and operationalizing “social”. If the next phase of social media is operating as a scalable social organization or business, then expect to see an explosion of activity in the following areas:

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