As we engage in conversations with business leaders a set of common questions usually develop. These common questions reflect a continuous disconnect between business leaders understanding "how" the social web can influence business results.
Much of the media describes the social web in terms like "connections, social media, networking" and the list of ambiguous buzz words proliferate the "conversational content" like a virus. Comprehension and definitions of the latest buzz only make it hard for businesses to assimilate what "it" is and how "it" can add value to business results.
Most business leaders understand the concept of "systems" being inter-related parts aimed at producing an end results. There are systems for: marketing, accounting, human resource, IT and the list goes on and on. So lets start with the word "system" to define the social web in business terms.
A System is a set of interacting or interdependent entities, real or abstract, forming an integrated whole. An 'integrated whole' can also be stated in terms of a system embodying a set of relationships which when connected produce a combined result. i.e. production, distribution, marketing, sales etc. collectively produce results.
The Social Web is a System of Influence
The social web is a dynamic system of technology that enables people to connect with people and create conversational content aimed at attracting people with affinity to topics and people of influence. The system accelerates human relationship dynamics.
Influence is a term that refers to the ability to indirectly control, shape or affect the actions, beliefs and attitudes of other people or things through ones behavior, words or presence. A sphere of influence (SOI) of a business, organization or group can show its power and influence in the decisions of other business/organization/groups. It can be found using many factors, such as the size, the frequency of visits, etc. Traditionally, a company described as bigger had a larger sphere of influence until the social web changed the dynamics.
The social web enables the small to become bigger spheres of influence by leveraging conversational content that attracts relationships. Technological advances have empowered individuals with reach and richness, one to one to millions. Content is the attraction, relationships are the outcomes.
What Does this Mean for Business?
Sales and marketing is about methods to reach spheres of influence. If you want to sell more you need to reach more decision makers and provide an influence which motivates them to buy from you. The social web is a new dynamic which enables individuals and businesses to create and promulgate "conversation content" which creates an attraction , or pull, to the potential of a relationship.
Whether it be products, services or information every business has an objective to increase or at least sustain sales. However, the new "system of influence" is smarter, more engaging and influential than the old "systems of influence".
Lets just examine blogs as a point of reference to influence. Mediapost Research Brief states: Consider the results of a recent survey of U.S. journalist, blogs are not only having an impact on the speed and availability of news but also influencing the tone and editorial direction of reporting. The biggest impact of blogs, says the study, is in the speed and availability of news, while 61.8% of the respondents said that blogs were having a significant impact on the "tone" of news reporting, and 51.1% said they influenced "editorial direction."
Unless you've isolated yourself from the news you've heard how the social web is influencing politics, advertising, purchasing, distribution and a host of other markets and business processes. Last but not least the social web is influencing relationships which are the fundamental tenets to any business success.
Call "it" a fad, a "thing that kids use" or whatever you want but to ignore "its" influence is like saying "Our business doesn't need any customers".
The new "system of influence" is unlike any other system used by business. Its primary elements are connectivity with people and conversational content which connects people. So how connected is your business? How influential are your conversations? Maybe you need a new "system".
What say you?