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The Social Business Imperative: Eight Years Later

Cover_9780134263434_Shih_FinalI’m thrilled to announce the release of my new book, The Social Business Imperative: Adapting Your Business Model to the Always-Connected Customer, available starting this week online (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and more) and in bookstores.
When I wrote my first book back in 2008, social networks were just getting off the ground. The Facebook Era articulated a radical vision for how social media would transform media, relationships, and influence, creating new opportunities for businesses in the process. Skeptics abounded. Even that book title was controversial at the time. People needed a lot of convincing that social media wasn’t just a fad, so I drew on academic sociology research and drew parallels to the rise of the Internet 15 years earlier.
What a long way we have come. Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t believe in social media’s profound impact on every aspect of work, life, and society. As consumers, we live the social, mobile, and digital transformation every day – from the moment we wake up and scroll through Facebook to when we tweet the world good night just before falling asleep. Social media now drives more traffic to most websites than search engines do, and last year social media surpassed even email as the top Internet activity.
Businesses, too, have made great strides. Nine in 10 companies now use social media in some capacity. Yet tremendous untapped opportunity remains – $1.3 trillion in business value, to be exact, according to McKinsey Global Institute. Most organizations are still using social media only in superficial ways or only in select departments (generally brand marketing, recruiting, and customer service), but the rest of the organization has yet to catch up. And very few companies more than a decade old have built or adapted their entire business model for the Facebook era. Yet that’s precisely where the biggest prizes await.
Eight years later, many organizations are still wondering where the ROI is, or hoping in vain to stumble upon the next viral campaign. The challenge, as is so often the case, is that vision is easy, but operationalizing vision is hard. The Social Business Imperative (#socialbizimperative) is the execution-oriented sequel to The Facebook Era’s vision. It describes how social has come of age for businesses (what I refer to as Social Business) in an increasingly mobile world, how organizations can take a strategic, proactive approach to operationalize Social Business in every major function and department, and how these currently siloed initiatives can be tied together cohesively to deliver efficient, consistent customer experiences and unlock transformational new business models.
There are two primary reasons why Social Business has become an imperative. First, social media is where customers spend their time and expect to engage. The continued dramatic rise in smartphone penetration and usage is driving up social engagement even further. Second, the so-called big data generated by customers on social, mobile, and digital platforms can be harnessed for predictive analytics – which in turn can be used to power new business models and practices that delight customers with personalized experiences, curation, and convenience.
The book includes case studies from leading companies that have embraced the Social Business mandate, including Warby Parker, Wells Fargo, Raymond James, Ameriprise, Disney, Ritz-Carlton, L’Oreal, Farmers Insurance, Ritz-Carlton, and Netflix, spanning many industries and continents.
As Forbes summed up in its review of the book earlier this week, Social Media is Everyone’s Business – Yours Included, the mistake many management teams make is over-delegating social and digital efforts to fairly entry-level social and digital teams. In reality, social and digital are too important and too strategic for company leaders to not personally own and drive.
It’s been an incredible journey from start to finish and I’m so happy to share the finished product with the world and especially our amazing customers, who are featured in and served as great inspiration for the book.
Please ‘like’ the The Social Business Imperative Facebook Page to get the latest updates on book signings, appearances, updates, and more!
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Clara Shih

A pioneer in the social media industry, Clara developed the first social business application in 2007. Her latest book, The Social Business Imperative, is a Wall Street Journal-featured bestseller. She is a member of the Starbucks board of directors.

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