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What We Talk About When We Talk About “Social”Sometimes it helps to see distinctions side by side:
In some cases, we’re talking about tools. In others, we’re talking about how the marketplace economy changes. And, in some ways we’re talking how the organization changes. When we use the terms interchangeably, confusion is prevalent and meaning is lost. Unless you’re talking about marketing specifically, don’t use the term “Social Media.” The electric light bulb wasn’t a new kind of candle. Not to mention, CEOs and boards think of “social media” as the stuff their marketing team drives. If you are discussing ways social tools can be applied to all parts of a value chain, “social business” is probably the term you are looking for, although there’s still plenty of confusion with social enterprise. If you are describing a reconstitution of work and institutions, then use Social Era. No term is ever complete. Each of us are building on each others’ ideas as we collectively grapple with understanding and decoding what is happening, and what we think it means. We are all seeking clarity but are limited by our own understanding, our vantage, and by, of course, the examples we witness. But this is not about semantics. When we focus on tools alone, I think we’re making a mistake. It’s geek chic, it’s even interesting, but it’s not talking about what is possible. The bigger point is that major changes are afoot that change value creation, the meaning of work, and the structures for our institutions. When we conflate the tools with the outcomes, I think we risk meaning and impact. When we all use more precise language, each of us will find that people understand our meaning, and more clearly see the light.
Term Origin Implication Social Media Chris Shipley and ClueTrain Manifesto Moving marketing from a monologue to a dialogue. Enterprise 2.0 Andrew McAfee Tools can speed information flow and tear down siloes. Social Business (1.0) Mohammed Yunus Make profits and meaning (at the same time). (Also referred to as Social Innovation or Social Entrepreneurship.) CrowdSourcing / Open Innovation Jeff Howe / Henry Chesborough Leverage others to create value for you. Social Business (2.0) Peter Kim (and Dachis organization) By being more connected, (i.e. using social tools), a company can generate greater value to all its constituents. Social Era Nilofer Merchant Connected individuals can now do what once only large centralized organizations could do, which changes organizational structures and individual power.
The internet is a jargon-creating machine. New terms pop-up all the time, just last week we looked at one of our new favorites, Datafication. But what about the terms you hear in social media streams everyday, like: Social Media, Enterprise 2.0, Social Business (1.0), CrowdSourcing / Open Innovation, Social Business (2.0), or even the newly coined “Social Era.” While all of these might seem pretty obvious, when placed next to each other you’re able to identify subtle but important differences in these words. Knowing the etymology behind these internet terms will help you have a more precise conversation in the “Social Era.” Nilofer Merchant is a writer for the Harvard Business Review and author of the book 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era. This article excerpt will help you understand the nuances within these social business terms.