The Social Impact of Social Business

The Vital Edge business runs on the most powerful force on the planet – the human connection.

Our next generation of businesses are deeply connected. They are connected to the personal social networks of their employees and customers and to the professional networks of their suppliers, distributors and other partners. For these reasons, the tech sector now uses the term “social business” to describe modern, hyper-connected companies.

As a leader who cares about the societal impact of your business, this use of the word “social” may seem somewhat confusing. Is a social business about social networks or social impact? Here on the Vital Edge, the answer is “both.” Our goal is to help you create a new breed of “social business” that’s deeply networked and deeply mission driven.

The exploration of “social business” you’ll find here also dives below the layers of social networking technology, and into the human connections that give it real life. We dig into the deeper engagement that happens when your business serves people’s innate desire for human connection and for meaning. In short, this is about going beyond “likes” and “tweets” to what most feeds the human soul within a business context.

Read between the lines in the tech sector’s current version of “social business,” and you get the sense that these new networks are primarily for extracting wealth for the firm. Our view here is different. It’s based on the idea that your company’s social networks are vital, living things. They require continued care and feeding to remain vital and valuable. In practical terms, this means using the technology of social business to invest in your stakeholder networks, knowing that their sustainability is absolutely critical to your long-term success.

Here are some of the implications of this enhanced understanding of social business:

  • Relationships are critical to social business, and in your company it’s more than just customers, distributors and suppliers that you care about – it’s everyone with a real stake in your work. In this sense, your Customer Relationship Management database is really a Stakeholder Relationship Management database – and you can use it to operationalize stakeholder principles in your business.
  • Your social mission helps people fill a powerful desire for purpose. Combine that with good strategies and tools for relationship management and engagement, and you build a powerful edge over regular social business. 
  • Social business uses technology to turn companies into platforms for contributions from customers, suppliers and other partners. Your mission-driven business broadens the base of contributors to this platform, generating contributions of economic and social value
  • One risk of the tech sector’s approach to “social business” is that it transforms relationships into purely commercial commodities. As a leader of a good business, you know that the most effective connection goes beyond the purely transactional, to engage people’s sense of purpose and connection with others. In short, you understand that it’s about more just than tapping the human soul; it’s about feeding it as well.

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