Zeus of Marketing


The Advent of a New Era: Social Business: Are You Ready?

November 2nd, 2011

I hear cats are good web attention grabbers

It seems that every certain number of years different trends and events converge to cause major change, e.g.:

  • Millions of years ago, the world lost the Dinosaurs (65 million years ago to be exact, give or take a million, at the end of the Cretaceous Period),
  • The slow but finite decline of the Roman Empire over a period of four centuries, culminating on September 4, 476  (1600 hundred years go by in the blink of an eye),
  • The end of the cold war in the late 80’s which began with the coming to power of Gorbachev in 1985 and ended with the fall of the U.S.S.R in 1991 (it seems like yesterday).

While I can’t claim to have experienced 67% of these changes, I am glad to be experiencing the rise of a new era, that of the Social Business. The question is, do you want to go down in history as the tyrannosaurus or ensure the laws of evolution apply to you? What does it take to be part of the “fittest” to survive in this new era?

First we need to understand what is Social Business?

There seems to be two separate definitions, albeit closely related, as number 1 can be enabled and fed by number 2:

1. Social business, as the term had been commonly used, was first defined around 2006 by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus and is described in his books Creating a world without poverty—Social Business and the future of capitalism and Building Social Business—The new kind of capitalism that serves humanity’s most pressing needs. In Yunus’ definition, a social business is a non-loss, non-dividend company designed to address a social objective within the highly regulated marketplace of today. It is distinct from a non-profit because the business should seek to generate a modest profit but this will be used to expand the company’s reach, improve the product or service or in other ways to subsidize the social mission.

2. In 2011, IBM has started socializing, pun “intended,” Social Business as “the practice of  combining social networking tools – internally and externally – with sophisticated analytic capabilities, companies are transforming their business processes, building stronger relationships among their employees, customers and business partners and making better decisions, faster. This is what makes a social business – embracing networks of people to create new business value and opportunities.”

While at first glance the two definitions may seem at odds ( let’s face it, one is Nobel Prize-worthy altruistic, while the other sounds like just another “self-serving” tagline), in reality, we couldn’t accomplish one without the other.  Beyond Prof. Yunus’s actions with the UN and in Bangladesh, we are starting to see the rise of what I call the “Profit with Purpose” movement. To cite a few examples (you can click on it for additional details);

  1. TOMS shoes One for One Movement
  2. PepsiCo Performance with Purpose
  3. Starbucks, Chevron and IBM Financial backing for small businesses

I believe that there is a formula that will benefit all constituents in the new era.  Just like we survived and grew during the industrial age – we can look at networks (Social Media) as the capital of the 21st century and use it to our advantage (way beyond grasping for likes and followers in Facebook, LinkedIn or twitter).

Are you ready? – How to secure “survival of the fittest”

Multiple events are predicting the new era; changing demographic landscape , the “Occupy  (fill in the blank)”  movement,  the economy, even common sense tells us, what good is it to have a product to sell if customers can’t afford it?

It is time to take a closer look at your market,  your business model (the complete “value chain”), maybe even your positioning, and identify what actions you can start implementing today that will ensure your business success as well as that of the market (customer) you serve. Social Media networks can help identify your employees, customers and even investors sentiments – take a closer look at how you can leverage this information.  You know that there’s a faster, nimbler competitor out there doing it already – what are you waiting for?, an “Et tu brute” moment?

Shameless self-promotion

Stay tuned for my next blog.  In the meantime, please share your thoughts below; I appreciate each and every one of your insightful comments, and I promise to pay extra attention to any opposing point of view. You can also contact me via email: zeus@jrgrana.com, Twitter: @zeusofmarketing and Facebook: Zeus of Marketing. You can also find additional contact information via LinkedIn:http://www.linkedin.com/in/jrgrana

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Entry Filed under: Social Media

  • Anonymous

    No thanks. I will continue to focus on a time tested profit model using innovation and continuous process improvement to drive down the cost of my product and increase market share rather than overcharging one customer to give something away free to another (TOMS).

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the comment  – s_r – difficult to counterpoint when you put it that way. Although I could name many that have forsaken innovation and continuous process improvement for forced monopolistic actions- which end up hurting everybody including themselves. The point of the post is simply that it is time to seriously innovate and look for new business models – TOMS was used as an example – not necessarily as an end all.

    • Anonymous

      @swamp_rat:twitter  I agree with your comment (we need profit), but I don’t think this article is really about a mutually exclusive issue. The “social” business model (both examples) relate to addressing your customers true needs or goals. That covers VALUE, the profit is driven by OPERATIONAL decisions, the “social” part is based on BUSINESS GOALS. Short story, all can be achieved. TOMS as an example, focuses on a certain demographic (trendy shopper that cares more about the company mission than the price). They don’t care about being overcharged to give something free to someone else (that’s the whole point). The alternative is to have children working in a 3rd world country so “I” can save $5 and still be overcharged. TOMS is profitable + social. The “time tested profit model” you’re referring to is based on American “capitalism” which ironically started as a “social” movement in socialist Europe (look that up). The wind of change is happening as Zeus mentions. Whether it is due to “altruistic” motives or financial (masked).

  • Elizabeth

    So true.  For this one person shop, most of my clients are coming via social business.  It is amazing.  I’m busier than ever.  Thanks for sharing.

    • Anonymous

      You have an extra room – I’m moving to Colorado then  – NYC is starting to get stale :)


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