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Building A Truly Social Business: A Conversation With Brian Solis – Forbes

Social media expert Brian Solis is one of those lucky souls who seems to be described more often than not as a “visionary,” for the manner in which he has seen and described an organizational future driven by new digital technology.

In a new short-form e-book co-authored with Charlene Li, The Seven Success Factors of Social Business Strategy (published by Wiley Jossey-Bass), Solis presents a specific vision of “social business,” which goes beyond lip service in an age in which we talk about social more than we do social.

Most organizations simply staple a social-media department onto their existing org chart. Having thus paid lip service to the gods of new technology, they then go on about business as usual. Yet by locating their social-media departments in the far suburbs away from the C-suite, they fail to fully grasp what a digitally connected world means for their own fortunes, Solis says.

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For social-media strategists to gain a seat at the tables that matter, Solis and Li say they must establish:

Offering clearly defined business goals rather than championing nebulous values.

A long-term vision for becoming a truly social business, by clearly illustrating the value delivered to customers, stakeholders and shareholders.

Earning senior executive support (this is a tricky issue discussed in more detail here).

A strategic roadmap that looks out three years and aligns business goals with social media initiatives.

Updating processes with a renewed focus on education within the organization.

Training staff on vision, purpose, business value, and technology.

And investment in technology as a focus and enabler–after vision, goals, and strategy are defined.

In an interview, Solis offers more insight into how his new model works. 

Say more about the “social business” model that you advocate for.  How is it different from a conventional business model? 

Charlene Li and I learned that a social business is more than social media marketing, of course. Everything begins with a philosophy…a new perspective, if you will. It’s the belief that all aspects of the business become social, inside and outside the organization.

[It allows for] a complete and consistent experience before, during and after transactions to build a more customer-centric relationship and engagement model. Social, then, becomes an enabler for a new business approach that not only humanizes the company, but also improves the foundation for reaching and connecting with customers and employees in the channel and ways they prefer.

What’s at stake if a company eschews the social business model?  

What’s at stake? Everything. Traditional customers are shrinking over time. Connected customers are gaining strength and velocity.

Businesses simply must adapt to reach customers in new places and new ways to earn attention, create experiences, and build revenue. This isn’t an overnight process, but instead one that takes place over time. Technology isn’t going anywhere. It’s only becoming more pervasive and disruptive.

Social businesses learn that, on the road to progress, resilience becomes a competitive advantage. A social business model is necessary not because of the tools per se, but instead because of the approach. Connected customers and employees are exhibiting significant changes in behavior as compared to their traditional counterparts.

Connected customers are just that…they’re connected, they’re always on. As a result, they become more informed. And over time, they become more demanding. They expect immediacy, attention, personalization and a more efficient and intuitive experience based on the networks, apps, and devices they use.

So it’s no longer about seeing customers as one audience who must follow a series of pre-defined paths. Instead social businesses are crating optimized paths that take into consideration context, behavior, and outcomes.

Do you include examples of organizations who do it right?

We include specific examples for each of the seven success factors—highlighting companies such as Adobe, GE, Shell, Aetna AET +0.96%, RadioShack, Sephora, ARAMARK, Discovery Channel, Wellpoint, among others.

The entire book is dedicated to highlighting who does it right and how. One thing to note is that in each case, the evolution of social business is constant. There is no perfect model yet, as the journey is introducing insights and lessons that are then applied to new initiatives. We found that every business in our study wouldn’t say that they’re doing it right, but instead that they’re on the right path.

[Please feel free to share your own insights and experiences with our community in the comments section.  And hit "Follow" at the top of the page to receive notification of more career and management advice from Rob Asghar.]

via Building A Truly Social Business: A Conversation With Brian Solis – Forbes.


Born in 1964, business owner, from Woodbridge, VA, owns ExcitingAds! Inc. ( and blog ( He was born in Mirpurkhas, Sind, Pakistan. His elementary school was ST. Michael's Convent High School, Mirpurkhas, Sind, Pakistan. Graduated high school from ST. Bonaventure's Convent High School, Hyderabad, Sind, Pakistan. His pre-med college was S. A. L. Govt. College, Mirpurkas, Sind, Pakistan. Graduated from Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences, Jamshoro, Sind, Pakistan in 1990. Earned equivalency certification from Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, Philadelphia, PA in 1994.

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