Social media exploded a few years ago and developed a desire amoung businesses worldwide to engage with the digital world through social media. Companies started Facebook pages, Twitter Profiles and every kind of social media profile they could think of. Blogs have since become mandatory in business and organisations have begun to understand the need to move from paying for placement in publications to create and curating content to build online communities.
Was social media a fad?
Six or seven years down the line it may be a good time to question if social media was in fact a fad. It arrived, kicked up a storm and forced everyone to think hard and fast about getting involved. Business jumped in with force, grandparents signed up to meet their grand children overseas, divorces were blamed on Facebook and society (business and personal) felt the power of social media in their lives every day.
So to kick the ‘fad’ question square in the teeth. Social media cannot be a fad, it is still around, it has become a part of every day life and the interactions over social media have become socially acceptable around the world. Google, the internet business that has pushed our world into the information era, quietly proclaimed that search engines were not enough to navigate the internet as they integrated Google+ (their own social network) into their primary Google search interface.
It is becoming clear that social media has matured. It has become more than a platform for people to tell the world whats happening in their lives. It helps people manage their personal lives, it creates a stronger connection between you and the people that matter most to you. Social media has shown it can be valuable inside the business world in the area’s of recruitment, innovation, employee productivity, project management, launching start-ups, managing suppliers, knowledge management and a variety of other business imperatives.
Social media has become an industry on its own. Not only changing the way people communicate but also providing employment, new competitive advantages, building infrastructures, innovating technology, designing new business models and doing everything a good business economy should do.
Launching us into the Connection Economy
Rolf Jensen calls it the Dream Society, but the business world is beginning to understand it as The Connection Economy.
A world where our competitive advantage comes from our relationship with others, not from our ability to focus, the assets we own, the rate of our productivity or efficiency or the amount of data we have access to. No, our new competitive edge in business comes from relationship.
This is where social media comes in. The technology behind social media (social technology) has been responsible for launching our world into the Connection Economy. It’s created a world where connections are easier to manage, find, organise and leverage. It’s allowed us to jump past “using the internet to access content” to “using the internet to connect with people and content.”
This is the point that we need to recognise and pay hommage to the entrepreneurs that built the first social networks Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, Reid Hoffman, Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe. These are the men (and many other like them) who blazed a trail to a new era by conceptualising and creating the technology that made this new era possible.
The connection economy has just begun. It essentially speaks to the need and ability to connect people closer together through technology – social technology. This is the social economy, the new world that exists when people can connect with each other in better ways, more productive ways, more useful ways and more exciting ways.
On a side note: The Internet of Things and Mobile Technology are two new digital technologies that will enhance the connection economy by making it quicker and easier to connect to both people and machines.
Making the most of the Connection Economy
Success in the connection economy is most likely dependable on a number of technologies and business principles however most of these will be underpinned by the need to leverage the social connection that exists between people and business. In the business context it has become imperative to begin looking at how we can reinvent our business due to the massive impact that social media had on society, our employees and our customers.
The shift from social media to the connection economy simply speaks to the need for business to become social instead of just speaking about social. To present a social idea that is implemented in a social business to a social customer.
People love connecting in social environments – your entire business could provide that environment and gain a big competitive advantage in doing so.
I would suggest at this point that there are a few things you can do to help your business transition successfully into the connection economy.
- Start a conversation with your Executive team to understand the consequences and opportunities the connection economy and social technology present to the business
- Commission a team internally to re-look at your business. They should be re-evaluating everything you do to see if they can use social to enhance the customer, employee or supplier experience
- Examine at the technologies in your business and explore opportunities to socialise your business processes.