(Being) SOCIAL (for) BUSINESS – Or, what I learned at SXSW and SBS2010

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    Social Business
    I just returned from a great week in Austin, attending the fantastic Social Business Summit (hosted by the Dachis Group) and the SXSW Interactive conference. It was a great time, and I learned A TON! Other folks have posted some great recaps, so I won’t rehash those. But, just some of the lessons I took away included:

    – When dealing with enterprise level social interactions, you can’t scale with just experts, you need to let your broader front line employees scale your social capabilities. (Charlene Li and Jaime Punishill)

    – People want to join something bigger than themselves and giving them something to join helps them support your efforts. (Jackie Huba)

    – Stories put a human face on statistics. Don’t forget that service is a set of experiences and not just metrics. (Frank Eliason)

    – Businesses thrive on the network when they adapt to it and not the other way around. (Lane Becker)

    – Businesses will more readily change in the face of a threat than an opportunity. (John Hagel)

    – Measure the return on the attention of social collaboration participants not on the cost of the collaboration system. (Lee Bryant)

    – Marketing going social is all about having people spreading your stories because they want to. (David Meerman Scott)

    …and countless more.

    I also learned that pictures of cute animals in your powerpoint deck is the new black…but that’s for another post.

    But even more than these business imperatives and strategies, I had a real world set of experiences that highlighted one of the keys of Social Business for me.

    Since I have returned, I have been telling people that I even more than the great sessions I attended, the conversations I had in “social” situations gave me incredible value. Sure, the parties were fun. But they served a real business purpose as well. I made some great contacts at 3AM, hanging out with great people. As I reflected on my time in Austin, I realized that this real world experience was an analog to how social media can work for business and also a guide for the best way to approach social business.

    Business has always relied on personal relationships. When you have a relationship with someone, you have enough trust in them that you are willing to listen to them and willing to help them when you can. This is why business is done every day with people you meet at the rotary club, or coach youth soccer with, or see at monthly tweetups…etc. Genuinely seeing people as people and building trust with them is done for its own value and creates new friendships, but it also sets up future business. I know that if and when any of my new friends from the last week need help with something, I will be genuinely happy to be able to help them…FAR more so than if someone just cold calls me and asks for my attention.

    And there is the analog between real life and social media. Companies and business people who see social media as just another message or selling channel miss the point and opportunity. Social business is an opportunity to develop relationships without needing to be in the same physical space and to do so with a lot more people – with what Mike Troiano has called Scalable Intimacy. People who pay attention to what I have to say and engage with me in social media build trust with me. People who DM me to check out their latest thing even before we have exchanged any pleasantries do not.

    So my number one takeaway from Austin was a reminder that you get a lot of value from personal interactions – well beyond the fun. If we remember that aspect of human nature in social business, we’re already half way to our goals.

    temporary technorati stuff: 2ENDS7A7HAFN
    Photo Credit: The Plan8

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