The Conflicting Definitions of Social Business

As social media has continued to evolve and we start to move into the era of social business we’re running into a linguistic snag; There are now two different definitions for Social Business.

Those of us in the social media world have not yet settled on an industry wide definition but I’ve recently started using this definition for social business:

The Social Business will be fully realized when social technologies are leveraged to build collaborative relationships across all company stakeholders. By leveraging social technologies in an open and transparent way businesses will also regain and build more trust among stakeholders. This increased trust will result in greater knowledge creation, which the same social technologies have the ability to capture, organize and distribute at a yet to be seen level of efficiency. By building collaborative relationships with all company stakeholders using social technologies, businesses will be able to quickly create and capitalize more innovation.

But according to the all mighty wikipedia Professor Dr. Muhammad Yunus, in his book Creating a World without Poverty - Social Business and the Future of Capitalism used this definition:

Social business is a cause-driven business. In a social business, the investors/owners can gradually recoup the money invested, but cannot take any dividend beyond that point. Purpose of the investment is purely to achieve one or more social objectives through the operation of the company, no personal gain is desired by the investors. The company must cover all costs and make revenue, at the same time achieve the social objective, such as, healthcare for the poor, housing for the poor, financial services for the poor, nutrition for malnourished children, providing safe drinking water, introducing renewable energy, etc. in a business way. The impact of the business on people or environment, rather than the amount of profit made in a given period measures the success of social business. Sustainability of the company indicates that it is running as a business. The objective of the company is to achieve social goal/s .

Of course you could have a social business that is also a social business according to both terms. In fact if we simplified the second definition of social business to a business with the objective to do social good (ignoring for a minute the nonprofit like financial status) then I would argue that a social technologies enabled social business would be more likely to do social good because they would be in tune with what their customers and employees want and that the non-profit like social business who uses social technologies would be a more successful social business.

As I pointed out in my post, The Evolution of New Media, Web 2.0, Social Media, Social Business: A Brief History of Everything, we are still in an evolving space and our definitions will continue to evolve. Will social business stick around? I don’t know, right now I can’t think of a better word.

Do you have a better word that fits the first definition?

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About Tac Anderson

Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.
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About Tac

Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.