I want to share my take on how human business works, and what the social web is all about. When I talk about these things, they might not line up with what you’ve thought about, but that’s okay. We see things differently. To me, this is a large tapestry and we’re weaving the fabric of new stories together a little at a time. It’s okay if you don’t see it this way yet. I just want to share my perspective, if only to give you a fuzzy squint into what I believe is here, and what I think is coming with all this. Your thoughts and additions to this are welcome. Or this might not resonate at all. I’m open to your ideas, either way.
Human business resets the core building block from “customer” to “relationship.” We accept that “relationship” includes non-customers, prospects, customers, customers who are leaving, former customers, potential reclaimed customers (to name a few).
Business Structures Matter
Human business recognizes that businesses and their practices are porous and more like fabric than like a machine. We accept that good ideas come from outside the company, too. We accept that our employees and other relationships have lives outside the company, and that our business is actually a bunch of clusters that form, dissolve, and form again, instead of some kind of rigid tree structure.
Small Powerful Networks Matter
The social web gives us a new dialtone, a new TV station, a new newspaper, a new magazine, and we all have one. We are all voices waiting to be heard, and all businesses must now think about a customer base that broadcasts, that networks, that voices its opinions loudly, in the open, and with rapid-paced interactions between loosely-joined clusters of like-minded types.
Human business doesn’t have to follow the traditions that came before it. The social web amplifies different aspects of these businesses. There are different centers of power. In a world where we know Paula Berg from Southwest Airlines, Frank Eliason from Comcast, Jenny Cisney from Kodak, but not the senior team, we have a new kind of power, we have a new hierarchy, a new kind of relationship-centric communications method.
Alternative Economies Matter
These tools help us with awareness, reputation, and trust: currencies that were in such low demand before, but that now seem to be more important than ever. We can buy spots on TV, but no one notices. We can pay for shiny clothes, but we can’t buy a reputation. Trust isn’t something that one picks up at the store. And yet, we can transact a lot of exchanges that use those three things as part of the payment mechanism.
This is not utter chaos. This is a redefinition to better align with organic and social sculptures that make sense to all of us, whether or not we were willing to acknowledge this before. Example: when our old encyclopedias stopped mattering, we wrote our own. Example: when we ask the social web for a hotel, the social web answered back.
This is not a new marketing channel. This is not a new technology. This is not a movement.
It’s more. And yet, it’s so easily misappropriated and malformed and co-opted that it could just as easily be brushed aside. This isn’t the battle of who “gets it” and who doesn’t. It’s the battle to shape these new pathways with the help of these new tools and methods, before some other rigid structure pushes itself in place.
Or, it’s just a bunch of feel-good nobodies tweeting and facebooking.
Photo credit kalandrakas