Businesses face challenging times. New technologies and consumer trends mean what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. The world has become more demanding of speed, quality and accountability, and it is expecting a more human touch from companies.
Social media seems like part of the answer, but it isn’t enough. You have to change how you think about communicating with your customers. For your business to survive and thrive in the new digital economy you need to do far more than just put out digital equivalents of your TV advertising and print media.
The future of business is social
To succeed in business in the next decade, companies need to reinvent themselves completely.
This has always been true, and relationships still matter in the most rigid faceless corporations. Yet business language, strategy and communication largely ignore this fact, both in how they work internally and how they communicate with customers. For this reason, they need separate departments – customer relations and human resources to help them “do social” within their business and with the customers. Social businesses have social in their DNA – it informs every stage of business motive and activity, from purpose to profit.
There is an argument that if businesses aren’t ruthless, self-serving and deliberately ignorant of the needs of others they will go broke, and this has certainly been the strategy of some of the most successful businesses over the past decades. However business leaders are increasingly adopting a new approach to business that combines the benefits of capitalism with respect for society and others – an approach in which businesses behave as responsible members of society.
And the approach is working. This growing community of “social businesses” is proving that it is possible to excel in the business area by operating with logical self-interest but also building concern for customers, society and the planet into their corporate makeup. As ethical and fair trade practices become more widespread, businesses which persist with antisocial practices are beginning to be penalised. People are becoming ever more concerned about the ethics and behaviour of the companies they buy from and the transparency offered by social media places companies under constant public scrutiny.