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Who are the best experts in social business?
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Google these phrases:

"social business design"
" social business IBM"
"social business planning"

A good start. 
imho, the true 'experts' in social media are the one's who live in the trenches, so to speak. Day in and day out they comment, they post original content, they start and add to conversations, they have an amazing grasp of how g+ works - and they don't flaunt that. They actually just put their heads down and get to work, and slowly but surely build a following here and elsewhere. The best experts remind me of great customer service - you always notice them, but the person providing the service just knows that that is how they act every single day. They don't wear signs that proclaim "Look at me. I'm an expert." They just are.
I would agree, +Sean Cowen Probably best for tactical experts.

But also remember that there are many ways to success. Finding the best model to replicate is no easy feat. There is much value up the line from experts that analyze success at a level higher than the individual.
Some of the responses here aren't taking into account the differences between social media and social business. Social media is communications focused. Social business is communications, r&d, legal, sales, customer support, operations, collaboration etc. All at enterprise scale. Internal and external. It's applying a social layer across an organization.

IBM has one of the best definitions. Again, go to Google. 
Mine was a broad macro view, absolutely, and for micro views, I would always look to someone like +David Armano He's right about sm versus social business and especially when you're talking about enterprise levels. Not every comment will always be "all-inclusive," and the question was rather open-ended.
I would add Olivier Blanchard and Christopher Barger to this list.
I agree with +David Armano and would go a step further: IBM has not only done well with a solid definition and commitment to social business, they have been among the most active communicating about it. They've created an excellent white paper on "The Social Business: Advent of a New Age" that covers the fundamentals extremely well ( and are the subject of an IDC white paper on IBM's success at becoming a social business ( Both are well worth reading.
+Thomas Power Social Media is the result of adding a social layer to media functions, like communications. Social Business is the result of weaving a social layer across an entire business or organization.
IBM has to be included in a discussion regarding social business. Also, as a company that really championed the notion of Social Business and continues to report, monitor and push the notion forward, you'd have to look at Dachis Group as well. (cc +David Armano, +Ethan McCarty
I've been looking up some of the people I don't know, and so far I see there's confusion between social media experts, i.e. marketers who deal in how best to get more exposure online, and people from, say, IBM. Is there even a good definition of what a social business is/should be?
Top of my head I'd say +Christopher Barger +Peter Kim +Charlene Li +Jeremiah Owyang +David Armano +Chris Heuer +Olivier Blanchard, Brian Solis. I'm also excited to see what +Matt Ridings and my book spouse, +Amber Naslund have cooking with their new social business consultancy, SideraWorks.

I very much agree with +David Armano +Shel Holtz and others in the thread that social business is not the same as social media, or social media marketing. Social business is about BEING social, inside and outside the organization. Social media is about DOING communication differently. The former is holistic (ideally). The latter is decidedly less so, but that doesn't make it unimportant.

Although I co-authored a leading book on social business, I don't do much consulting in that area. I'm content to stick to the marketing/communication side of the ledger, as that's what I enjoy, and where I'm most qualified.
+Francine Hardaway here's two to consider:

"The ways individuals and communities interact, form relationships, make decisions, accomplish work, and purchase goods are changing the way business is done. A social business embraces and cultivates a spirit of collaboration and community – internally and externally – delivering unprecedented return for the time invested."

How we've been defining "social business planning" ie. HOW you get there:

"Social business planning is the blueprint for the transformation of an organization—bridging the external with internal, resulting in a more connected way of doing business which creates shared value for all stakeholders"

Sweet. I'm trying to get at the distinction +Jay Baer just mentioned. So many of the people who deal in social business appear to be in PR, though. Where are the change managers? Are there any?
+Francine Hardaway there in lies theory and reality. In theory, someone like an Anderson or McKinsey should be leading. In reality, they are NOT. Is is possible that social causes business disruptions where new leaders in unexpected fields emerge? Why not. that after all is the definition of disruption. View our social business planning deck on slideshare and let me know what you disagree with.
+David Armano just did. Disagree with nothing, except that it will be a long, tough haul for the enterprise, and startups and small businesses that start out social could become big disruptors
+David Armano I would not like to be the CEO of a publicly traded company right now. I used to do investor relations, and I bet it is now almost impossible to control or even identify material information.
+Francine Hardaway the latest Trust Barometer (a global study we conduct) showed that CEO's and government officials took a nose-dive when it comes to trust. Interesting dynamics right now, definitely influence by real-time communications and socio-economic conditions.
+Francine Hardaway hear hear to that non Social CEOs have little chance they are #CSC and need to be #ORS to make the change
Found this thread via a tweet by +David Armano – I think one of the best connectors across social tools is +Alex Beauchamp. That's perhaps not the same thing as what you're asking, but she does brilliant work, and I highly recommend her. I second the nods to +Amber Naslund as well. She's smart and understands the layers of business and how to approach and build strategy work across those layers.
I consider everyone who is on this thread important to deepening my learning constantly re: social biz, media and its all about the generosity in sharing perfer thought leaders to experts
+Margaret Egan we are a bunch of people constantly thinking:-) thank you
+Jay Baer and +Chris Eh Young - thanks for including me on the list! +Francine Hardaway, there's a couple of tracks at play here -- first, who are the voices to listen to for wisdom, and second whether there's a difference between "social media" and "social business." To the first question, there are many great minds listed in this thread; for me, when +Geoff Livingston, Olivier Blanchard, +Jeremiah Owyang, +C.C. Chapman, +Gini Dietrich, +Doug Haslam (disclosure: he's my colleague at Voce), +Shel Holtz, +Shelly Kramer or +Ann Handley talk or write, I listen. That +David Armano guy can be pretty sharp too. ;-)

On the other discussion, while I agree that there is a difference between adopting social technologies and platforms across the business vs. just using them as a marketing or communications tool, I think we're getting a little cute with the wording or definitions; I think that most of the people who've earned respect in this business have long been advocating that the smartest application of social platforms is to integrate them across the organization, including employees and the entire supplier and partner chain. I agree with everything in the definitions of "social business," I just don't think it's that big of a departure from what serious social practitioners have been up to for a while. Shel and David, it would appear that you think it is a departure... what makes you say that? I'd love to hear your thoughts on that.

Francine, thanks for starting the conversation!
+Christopher Barger when I first heard Jeff Dachis say "social business design" what made me join that outfit, back in 2008, that's when my gears started turning around the difference. Many social media types still focused on getting views, shares and likes vs. moving an organization gradually over time to become more connected. IMO, that's the difference. More than just words. 
+Christopher Barger , no, I don't think it's a departure at all. What's new is literature from companies that have been applying it as an integrated business process, like the IBM documents. Advocating for integration of social sensibilities throughout business processes and supply chains is one thing. Companies documenting those processes is another. Pretty exciting, too.
One point I've been on for a while is that a social business is able to enhance the benefit of human interactions in just about any business process (as opposed to trying to engineer the human interactions out of the business process.) For example, interacting with the sales team of a social business might include artifacts of human interactions reaching deep into that company's supply chain or research division etc. A really sophisticated social business would have friendly and easily navigable visualizations of these artifacts of interactions etc. So this is to say that social business is a superset of interactions that includes social media -- since media is just one dimension of interaction with an organization. Nice to see the familiar names here -- people who seem like good candidates for Francine's list :-) +Christopher Barger +Shel Holtz +Rick Liebling +David Armano
THank you all for weighing in. This subject fascinates me. I have also been following Jeremiah's SCRM google group and several less public discussions.
I so heartily agree with +Sean Cowen's post. I've worked with a couple of names mentioned here and they share a lot of theory and book smarts but I've never seen them actually implement anything or take an idea and run it to success. So there's the theorists - which can tweet about the tools and concepts until the cows come home - then there's those I think who understand the theory based on daily practice. And those doing the work often don't have the time (or desire) to talk about it or do the conference circuit.

I think to do social media right, you have to know customer service, human behavior, trends, business (finance, forcasting, marketing, high level strategy, departments, inter-department working, crm) and then you need to understand how people use and receive social channels tools. You have to be able to sit on top of a perch and then connect it all to the rest of a company. Not a lot of people do this.

Social media/business is a really complex beast and I think there are a lot of 'experts' in different areas but few who actually are experts at the entire picture with a track record to back it up.

I use the analogy that if you don't know math and a math expert says "2+4=7", not only will you think they know math, but that they're smart. IT's hard for non social biz people to understand what social media 'experts' are legit because it's so easy to tweet our 'smarts' or write books. It's so much harder to do the work.
How about those Phillies, Francine? Looking good for 2012!
+Alex Beauchamp OK I'll bite. One of my projects is building, maintaining and deriving value from an internal ideation platform (built on Sharepoint) for ourselves (a 4k plus employee global enterprise). That's only one initiative. Working on several others for clients. What are you working on?
Thank you +Tristan Bishop +Shel Holtz and +David Armano for recommending IBM. Social Business (or at least awareness of it) is certainly expanding across the enterprise to the level many had had in mind originally: what qualities and value do social interactions add to the way people do work, and in today's view, in business process. This also means that we should be looking not in broad cases, but what processes look like in each organizational function or line of business. In other words, how does social improve or add value to say, the organization's product development, innovation & research process; its customer experience process in marketing, sales, and customer service; its employee workforce enablement and optimization. Each of these are complex processes of themselves. But there is also new value to think about in cross-functional views--Customer experience is more than just marketing, sales, or service; it is all of them together.

The value that social interactions bring here are on several separate levels. In the most basic form it adds value by capturing all that unstructured knowledge that we still try to manage (classical knowledge management); then comes value from inter-collaboration and relationship networks; then comes value by applying analytics to those collaborations and knowledge capture; and finally the transformation and dynamic/flexibility to managing what used to be very fixed processes.

A short (or long depending on your view :) discourse I know, but there is much more than simply managing and improving conversations/communication that lies behind the concept of social business.
I agree with +David Armano. In my last life, I led the social efforts for IBM's Lotus brand under the IBM software group and we quickly realized the potential of social in our business processes -- from marketing aka 'social media' to product development, campaign management, integration of online with offline events, and evolved our KPI's on monthly basis.Worked really closely with +Rawn Shah , +Ethan McCarty +Ken Godfrey +Tiffany Winman +Kathy Mandelstein and many others to make it a social 'business'. We incorporated social in almost every layer of our business. +Justyn Howard , I would say that Enterprise Social Strategy is a totally different ball game and I seldom see true experts who have actually experienced it to be called experts. I would also say that true social business will never need a 'community manager'. IBM doesn't have official community managers for that very reason. Every employee behaves as a community member and manages his or her own social network.
Copying +Joe Ottorino into the discussion. Been working with him for about a year now on the Canadian side of Social Business.
+David Armano on to many of the important issues. Most of the public chatter about #socbiz is around external constituencies and social media and marketing. Laying out the #socialfabric for all your internal folks is the fastest/highest ROI , though, for lots of reasons; trust built on transparency; aligned goals; less noisy systems; etc. #newsgator has about 300 of the global 2000 working on its platform, majority for internal but more and more for both, so we've learned a ton. Our extranet has thousands of our customers (individuals) co-working real-time on all these issues, too. +Bill Ives and +Mike Gotta and +Brian Solis all helpful here...
No one is an expert. Business is too complex and changing every day. I have been there and done that with some fairly large organizations (Intel, Hewlett Packard - IPG) as an employee .. not a consultant, a contractor or agency but someone who lived day in/day out with the corporate culture and politics and growing pains of implementing social internally. It's not easy and you have to be in constant "learning" mode all the time. We should ALL be in learning mode -- all the time.

The real "social business experts" (hate that word) are too busy changing their own business - behaviors, processes, etc. to engage in conversations like this .. there is no need for them to join the "battle" for social business thought leadership or stroke their own egos tearing others' resumes or educational backgrounds apart. And in my opinion, many (not all) of the people "calling out" social media experts are indirectly trying to position themselves as .. experts, unfortunately.

As +Rawn Shah +David Armano +Bilal Jaffery and +Shel Holtz mentioned above .. I place IBM front and center when I think about social business as an example to follow. They talk the talk and actually deliver on the promise. Others are +Mark Yolton from SAP and the work they are doing with the SAP Community Network.

I try and avoid conversations like this because it usually turns into a pissing match. Truth is, we should all be learning from each other because we can all add value in some way or another. Here is a group of people I learn from, in case you are interested.
+Michael Brito you have nailed it. You won't hear about the doers in the main feeds, maybe possibly during downtime or personal time. There's a saying in internal e2o circles, the more socially focused your role becomes, the less socially active you really become..or as I like to believe, less you market yourself. With that being said, a true practitioner is always learning and understanding the context of the medium. Rarely do you see folks who get it totally. 
Most of the growth in enterprise social is organic and seldom outlined in a tactical roadmap. Methodologies get evolved based on company culture and more. Every strategist is working on their unique story line. 
+Michael Brito +Bilal Jaffery I, like you, believe there are no experts, just researchers. I am even wondering how well social really works for business. Perhaps it is just being thrust upon business by the omnipresence of consumer social networks.

I am always looking for some ways to help the companies I advise, who are often smaller and have fewer resources. They can't have 178 social media accounts, because they may not even have 178 employees, and sometimes they are inherently better connected to the customer. I just don't want them to be blindsided by disruptive change, and I define myself as a change expert ( it's a personal philosophy that change is good, not bad). When I prepare them for launch, survival, and growth, what future am I preparing them for?

That being said, +Michael Brito this thread has been a joy, not a pissing match and thank you all! Some blog post on this is now in my future I am sure:-)
+Francine Hardaway Here's what I'd say: Tell your clients not to let the latest trends or technologies dictate their actions. Every business is different, for some Facebook works as a business driver, for others it doesn't. The only thing that works is what works for the business. If they are passionate about social media they'll jump in and can get value (by giving value), but it can't be forced. Whatever the client things they want to try - Twitter, Pinterest, Direct Mail, e-newsletter, etc., they've got to stick with it, nothing returns dividends immediately or without a full commitment.
+Francine Hardaway I agree. This thread has been fantastic. And on Google Plus no less. Very reminiscent of the old days of blogging when people came together to hash out ideas and different perspectives. You won't find discussions like this in a Mashable thread etc. Good stuff. 
An expert is not someone who has all the answers, but rather someone with experience and education under his belt and skill and knowledge as a result. That experience and education helps in identifying which trends and changes are significant and the implications of those changes. Lots of things change quickly -- medical science, astronomy, you name it -- assumptions get challenged daily. It's the experts who recognize that, who champion the new understanding rather than hold fast to old and arcane ideas. Of course there are experts.
I'd also jump in to say that: expertise is relative. The field is so "young" that anyone with 2 or 3 years of experience might be considered an expert (which sounds crazy when compared to a mature field), but we're only just scratching the surface. You can often catch snippets of expertise or insight from various pratitioners, but no one has an in-depth all-encompassing view; and most who do have depth and breadth are too busy "doing" that they don't have the time, mental cycles, or time to reflect, organize models, and pontificate.
Are you asking about companies that are successfully becoming social businesses? Vendors that supply the platforms? Analysts that cover social media/brand marketing? Analysts that cover internal employee collaboration? Employees/community managers that have been champions in helping their organizations? _________?
+Alan Lepofsky I am gathering information right now and in learning mode. My goal: speed this transformation in organizations if it is possible to do so. That would take a "village." (It takes a village to raise a child). I want to do something that helps this transformation -- because I think that US competitiveness depends on it. Whatever I do will help all of you, because anything that surfaces more skills and thoughts is valuable. Let me keep thinking how best I can help. Those of you who already know me are aware that I have connectedness and collaboration as core principles of my life, so I'm trying to figure out how I can help here.
+Francine Hardaway i didn't necessarily mean "this" particular thread is a pissing match. A lot of times conversations like this can turn into one though.

Great discussion for sure.
I'll alert the +Social Business Council members to this thread and see if we can get any to chime in. Agree with +Mark Yolton (who's been doing this longer than most), still too early to comfortably claim real expertise. Whether you're looking at Marketing or Internal Collaboration, best practices vary widely for most early adopters.
I'm not sure if any of these folks will ever call themselves "social business experts" but I do sure learn a lot from their blogs, tweets, presentations I find:

Sandy Carter of IBM, +Michael Brito +David Armano folks from Altimeter Group like +Charlene Li +Jeremiah Owyang +Brian Solis , Ray Wang from Constellation Group, +Sameer Patel +Rawn Shah , +Dion Hinchcliffe , +Peter Kim and Jeff Dachis from Dachis Group.

Here's a twitter list of these what I consider social business leaders:!/JoeSabado/socbiz

In addition, here's a list of resources/links from some of the folks above:

Thanks for the other names brought up in this thread btw. More folks for me to learn from.
What a difficult question.

A expert is someone who is good at something. At the same time not all experts are good at sharing what they know. A track record is great too. But even a track record doesn't always cut it. Success in one arena doesn't always translate into success in other arenas.

This is where those who write books can, I believe, create some value. And those of us who are consultants do have the privilege of getting to peek into many domains and see the larger patterns and connections that it can be hard to see within a single organization, even a large one.

I do think that social networks and the accompanying technologies are transformational and will change business at a fundamental level.

As far as experts, +Alex Beauchamp you have set a very high bar if you want proven business results and the ability to share the learning.

Maybe my thoughts here are "out of scope" for this thread, but at the top of my list of social business pioneers I would put Jack Welch of GE, who was prescient enough to see the threat to traditional corporate America long before his peers and took preemptive action and a lot of criticism to transform GE into a social business. Lou Gerstner would be on the list. Ricardo Semler of Semco also. These three executives presided successfully over massive organizational transformations and were instrumental in their success.

But these guys can be hard to get a hold of, so I will try to supplement them with some others who have a lot of value to offer.

Maybe I missed it but I am surprised to see that +John Hagel hasn't been mentioned. He has articulated the big shift and its implications as well as anyone I know, and as a practicing consultant has strong insights that cross multiple industries and organizations. +JP Rangaswami fits the bill as someone with deep operational experience who is also sharing his thoughts often and eloquently. I've gotten valuable insights from +Rawn Shah and +Joshua Scribner of IBM who are deep into the practical cross-disciplinary collaboration issues of a 450,000-person, technically-oriented global company. +Robert Scoble is on the cutting edge of the new technologies and the new technologists with a lot of insights. +Chris Messina has a strong commitment and thorough understanding of the core social technology infrastructure and where it needs to go. +Chris Brogan is always worth listening to and I never fail to gain insight from his thoughts -- although he is so prolific I have given up on reading everything. I can't fail to mention my colleagues +Dion Hinchcliffe +Peter Kim Lee Bryant +Lee Provoost +Jen van der Meer +Susan Scrupski and +Jeffrey Dachis of +Dachis Group -- and then there's my good friend +David Armano who has, I think, demonstrated his proficiency in many ways and on many levels.

Wow, now that I got started I can't stop thinking of people. +Jay Baer and +Amber Naslund have a great grasp of how communities form and grow, +Matt Ridings has a strong grasp of the enterprise as a social system and experience with technology implementations.

Ok, I just realized I need to stop or I will be writing all day. So in lieu of mentioning everyone in my comment here I will just share my social business circle:
I'm not really a social business expert. I help companies understand the customer acquisition and community nurturing opportunities for their organization with regards to these new digital channels, but that's about it.

I'm not even sold that "social business" is a good thing, believe it or not.
+Chris Brogan I suppose it's all in how you define social business. Probably a "definition minefield" if I ever saw one.
Well this is a wonderful thread. All these smart people and I see not one idiot here, so I'll be happy to play the role ;)

I think one of the problems with answering a question like this is because it's tough to come up with one generally accepted definition of a 'social business'. Hell we are still arguing about what social media is and is not.

One of the words that keeps coming up in regards to the idea of social business is 'collaboration'. But I don't think we can limit the value of collaboration in a purely internal setting. What I am excited about is the possibility of companies not only collaborating internally, but also taking the EXTERNAL conversation that their customers are having, and applying the knowledge gleaned from that conversation and applying it to their existing business processes. Then creating a cycle where the brand (internal) conversation is shared with customers so their external conversation is changed, then this information is taken back so the internal conversation is changed as well. Which results in business processes improving and becoming more efficient.

The upshot is, both the internal and external conversations change, and become more closely aligned. Hugh first wrote about this seven years ago and I still think it's incredibly relevant -

The big problem I see with this if you want to call it social business or something completely different, is that for most companies, this requires a big shift in culture and thinking. And that rarely happens overnight. But it's definitely worth pursuing, for as long as it takes.
The term "social business" for me implies that increasingly "business" is about interaction, clarification and "negotiation" between people around an object (product), issue (service) and accountability. The term "social" is I think shorthand for "dynamic flow of knowledge, trust, credibility and a focus on results", or at least that's my take on it.

This statement may be controversial. Most soc biz "experts" are focused on one or two aspects of business (today, typically marketing or biz processes or the supporting principles and mechanisms of this aspects. I am curious as to how many might consider themselves seasoned systems thinkers who know / understand biz strategy, marketing, HR, org design, org behaviour and more specifically the differences between the core industrial-era assumptions in those areas and why and how interaction in networks is fundamentally different and what that does to those industrial-era assumptions.

I think Dion Hinchcliffe is deeply thoughtful and has a lot relevant to say. I think Dan Pontefract is smart, open and not afraid to challenge people and sacred cows (not necessarily in that order). I think Bertrand Duperrin is knowledgeable, thoughtful (and prolific). I can't not mention Harold Jarche, who synthesizes issues amazingly well and maintains a constant practical edge. And, I'd include Stuart Henshall, a marketer and strategist who is using the principles and the tools in impressive ways with his clients. Sameer Patel and Thomas Vanderwal are essential thinkers and doers, and voices that are not to be missed. Thierry de Baillon is always thoughtful and courageous in leading the search for what really matters and why in the soc biz arena.
Whoops hit enter too soon. For me "social business" is all to do with integration and implementation of social media throughout the fabric of an organization. Which has to do with technology of course, but also processes, workflow, internal and external collaboration, etc.
There's a lot to chew on, obviously. This has been one of the best threads I've seen on G+ in a while. Are you sure we can't all just make an animated cat gif of one company slapping another in the face to prove we're doing it right? :)
+Chris Brogan I was looking for a little help from my friends to collate my own thoughts around this and figure out if there's something that needs to happen, and I inadvertently hit a nerve. This is good! And I don't have trolls. I have learned an inordinate amount.

BTW, I like Google+ for serious discussions; that's what I use it for, and the surprise of some people that the discussion took place here takes me aback.
+Francine Hardaway - it's just stunning. It's a great conversation that kept going well over the span of a day or two. I'm in awe. : )
Hey +Mack Collier I hate to burst your bubble but I played the village idiot card way up at the top of this thread. :-)
I too have wondered why so many interested, active SM/SB participants hail from PR. Perhaps their business model is the most challenged by new communication vehicles? Or is it that PR attracts great writers, the keepers, promoters of content?
<< I too have wondered why so many interested, active SM/SB participants hail from PR >>

Well, we're at the ass end (maybe, hopefully ?) of 20 + years of increased messaging, and manipulation (good & bad) of image and identity, both corporate and personal. "Everyone" is trying to sell something, or themselves. look at the characteristics of what we call social media .. a lot of it is to do with visibility, image, message and responsiveness. Small wonder PR went there sooner, IMO.
I'll tell you why: I owned a large PR agency for almost twenty years. The WORST things that happened to me were the "lipstick on the pig" scenarios when some founder/CEO would hire me to deliver messages that completely contradicted the reality of his company underneath. I finally sold the business because I was tired of being a (virtual) whore. So a person with real PR experience understands that the brand bubbles up out of the business processes, not out of the marketing department.

Gee, I guess I'm still angry.LOL
+Leah Goldman an interesting observation. Speaking for myself as I work for a "PR" firm, I ended up here but didn't start here. My roots are in interaction strategy & design. I went to work for a "PR" firm because when I looked around, this particular firm had a small army of people who truly embraced social as a game changer. Also, I think the notion of what PR is, is rapidly changing. I use quotes here because at least at our firm, we have such a diverse set of services that it's difficult to accurately classify them all as PR.

If you look at a lot of references here you'll see that many names have been the collective face of the enterprise 2.0 movement. I'd submit that both camps have something in common--social has begun to significantly affect their industries. Perhaps new voices will continue to emerge here as their areas of practice become disrupted. I would not be surprised. 
I am more of the opinion that the real / best experts in #socbiz sre those that are doing parts of it in their companies based on how their company has defined it/chunked it up. These people get what it acrually means to implement it,what the real isues are,and what the business value actually means to them and their company (eg. Socbiz provides a level of client engagement you can't get if you are a "virtual" company)
Hence you can't expect Joe Social Media Nut to even understand the implications of social when it comes to delivering social web experience for the consumers.
I find folks who have truly lived in this space (specially pre-social media era) get this better than many of the new (chasing the shiny object) traditional marketing/pr/comms groups who lack the context and hence majority of them have yet to see proper ROI.
+Bilal Jaffery experience is everything isn't it! (says us old guys) But honestly, it's frustrating to hear people talk about collaboration within large companies when they have never worked for one.
Great !! observations from Leah on down. Much appreciated. Sometimes I think there is almost a syndrome whereby bright, talented, motivated people get jaded or frustrated by some core aspects of living in an almost-always-commercial culture. Very many of the people I have gotten to know during my career have had some significant reckonings along the way .. and I think that is also what touches / impacts the spread of social business principles. By and large, there is a huge pent-up appetite for less bullshit. And as David Armano points out, the impacts are beginning to be seen and felt as real, and significant and sometimes (increasingly) fundamental.

I also think versions of the fed-up-edness can be found in many, if not all, of the professions, each in their context.
The biggest challenge I have seen in Social Business is change trying to engineered from the outside-in. I have worked with some huge corporations on early social business efforts, but without buy-in from the top the concepts developed by consultants and agencies fell flat. This happened time and again. Social business is not just strategy and technology, it is a cultural attitude and leaning. Without a commitment to deliver, most large enterprises are going to adopt social business principles slowly and with baby steps. Change takes time, and the promise of social business will also take time to come to fruition.

Outsiders have a lot to offer in the form of advice and experience. The greatest success is going to come from an insider/outsider hybrid. Outside consultants and coaches need to get into the guts of the organization, really become a part of it. And insiders need to learn to appreciate both their own limitations, learn to play politics, and let the outsiders in. Otherwise, change will take far longer.
Glad I came across this thread (thanks to +marc meyer really got me thinking.

For most companies, social business implies culture change or, in the case of a new business, business culture design. Many companies have integrated social technologies, platforms, into both their internal and external communications but few have achieved the cultural change that would garner them with recognition as a truly "social business" or have they, or does it really matter. After all becoming a social business is really a means to an end isn't it?

Many "social experts" have the knowledge to help a business implement technologies and platforms but few have the experience driving cultural change across an organization and, as +Chris Brogan eluded to, becoming a "social business" may not be for every business.

A social business expert would be someone who has implemented social technologies and platforms to drive cultural change across a business that has resulted in greater profitability or moved KPI's that are positively correlated to revenue. Think about it, a company's primary function is to make money and the best simultaneously make their employees and customers lives better and contribute to society as a whole. A company doesn't want to become a social business for the sake of being a social business, but rather to achieve business objectives tied to the bottom line.

I emphasize cultural change because the implementation of social technologies and platforms only succeed in the hands of people, people aligned on the basis of common values and common goals.

I am glad to have seen someone mention +John Hagel earlier. And many others mentioned in this thread I would think are experts in one or more areas that would assist a business in becoming more social.
What exactly is Social BUSINESS ? And what constitutes an expert - someone who already made all mistakes on the expense of their customers ?
+Alan Lepofsky I worked for intel, so I understand what you mean. There was so much I didn't know about the rationales behind silence and secrecy before that.. And I know something about SEC regs, and HiPPAA. In fact, one reason I started the thread was to try to square what I know is good/inevitable about social with at least the two regulatory realities I know.
always last to the party... but I think this thread would have been easier to follow if you all had just posted one name per comment and added a + 1 if you agreed on that person. we would have had a handy, sorted order then. :)
Who wants to be the first one to sort this? And generate a report on the discussion. lol
+Bilal Jaffery No worries, I am already on it. I've written one blog post, +David Armano has written another, and I'm going to go further to sort, collate, etc. Google+ should make us all a poster child for what COULD happen on its social network, too.
I'm late to finding this thread, but glad I did. An excellent read.

It's a difficult question. Predominantly because it depends upon the context it's being answered in.

The whole 'theory' vs. 'practice' thing is really a strawman argument as it implies theory has less value...yet it is generally those theorists who inform the bulk of the practicing consultants and drive the customer demand which the consultants fulfill (assuming it's not someone who drives theory forward and is a top notch consultant, which are more rare but do exist). To everything its place.

As for a definition of a Social Business, it seems to have been well covered and delineated from Social Media in this thread already.

As far as 'Social Business Experts' are concerned, I think it's simply too broad a question to give a meaningful answer to. Namely because the aspects involved in Social Business transformation are so complex and nuanced. I derive something completely different, yet equally valuable, from my various conversations on this topic from folks like +Dave Gray , +Peter Kim , +Amber Naslund , or +David Armano, yet I consider each experts in their own perspectives on Social Business. My personal focus is primarily in helping companies understand the implications of social on their business and put in place the framework to best meet those challenges/opportunities and thrive. That generally means a lot of work in change management and culture which to be blunt isn't that different than the work I've been doing for the last 10 years, the driver is simply different. But I'd never, as an individual, claim to have all the skills necessary to execute the plan. The other infinite skillsets that need to be brought to the fore during that long term transformation are sourced from wherever makes the most sense for that organization, often those are agencies and consultancies with social business expertise in their own right. Sure there'll be some overlap and some pissing matches for who is taking the lead, but I think you'll find a lot of us folks who are currently 'competitors' working side by side as we move down this road because as the understanding of social business evolves its practitioners will necessarily specialize into its niches.

The scope of these transformations can be driven or program managed by one firm, but will never be fully executed by a single entity much less a single person. Selecting a resource for these types of engagements is an exercise in due diligence, there is no 'best', there is only 'the best for you given your circumstances'.
The "Social Business" movement is at risk of the 'management trend of the month' syndrome. My most vivid experience of this was the "Design Thinking" movement of the late 1990s. +IDEO did some great work in this area and people like +Diego Rodriguez made a real stand for "Design is a culture not a department." But somehow it just resulted in a lot of Harvard Business Review articles, conference keynotes, half a dozen books and not a lot of real change. But that movement is now evolving and focussing more on case studies, industry awards, qualifications and robust best practise. There's life left in it yet but we should be wary of its lessons.

The Lean Manufacturing movement in the 1970s actually had quite a lasting impact (not all of it good). And has had a rebirth recently in a Lean Startup movement surrounding +Eric Ries But it's suffering from no one quite realising that it has implications for all business (not just startups). The Social Business believers could lean a little from the Lean team about how to standardise best practise to make it safer for big businesses to pick it up (Six Sigma being simultaneously the best and worst example).

The Social Business movement is still in the "what the hell is going on here" stage. I recall the movement in 2007 to delete the "Social Media" page on wikipedia (because it was "just a bit of fluffy jargon"). But very quickly we'll be in need of examples, case studies, a body of knowledge and some shared definitions. For me +David Armano is right that it's odd that +McKinsey & Company and company have been so late to this party. But we'll know that Social Business is maturing when they do arrive.

For now, lets enjoy the fact that no one is really an expert in Social Business (the term was only coined about a year ago). So the playing field is wide open. If we need a t-shirt for Social Business then maybe it will be: "Social Media is a culture, not a marketing channel."
+Francine Hardaway Though not as prolific as this post, there are worthy insights being shared here that may be relevant to some here. Social Business has diverse meanings and is evolving rapidly in an omnidirectional pattern with varying results and with many claiming have the key (in their own right). The question, how real is the promise of Social Business? is not a simple one to answer much less who is best at it? Perhaps we might all be good at it for now until it evolves into something different.
Anyone who comments in this thread should automatically be disqualified
Many companies are afraid to 'do' because it means change after sitting down and consciously re-thinking how they 'do' almost everything. :-)

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