2012 -- The Year of Social Business in the Enterprise

10/18/2011 11:10 am ET | Updated Dec 16, 2011

Social Media Marketing burst on the scene a few years ago to the delight of many and the bewilderment of others. Suddenly, conversational marketing became real. And most brands had forgotten the art of conversation in their interactions with customers. New terms like transparency, authenticity, and real-time permeated the disruptive dialog. You either 'got it' or you didn't. Using Twitter for marketing made sense to you or it didn't. Facebook was a portal to the global marketplace or a gigantic security and privacy liability.

Smart companies began to realize that their customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders were sharing opinions, reviews, thoughts and movements with one another all day, every day. They realized they needed to be in the conversation one way or the other. Suddenly, a new collective intelligence had become a pulsating and powerful search engine. Market research, trends, buzz weren't random at all but flowed in sync.

As we enter 2012, companies are realizing we are entering into a new wave of enterprise-wide change management. Is your company ready? 2012 will usher in the era of Social Business in the Enterprise.

One problem - the current enterprise-wide knowledge base is very uneven. One department asks employees to "Like"' the corporate Facebook page; another issues stern warnings to employees to refrain from using any social media platform. Employees are confused. Corporate departments are not communicating. There is no plan or strategy. And it shows.

We see a tremendous opportunity to help the business professionals learn how to effectively plan and implement social business initiatives.

Department heads and decision makers should be asking:

  • Are we getting the most out of our social media efforts?
  • What about the internal level of social business knowledge? Do our professionals have the resources they need to keep up-to-date?
  • Are we using internal social platforms to foster innovation and collaboration across the enterprise?

Social Business, the next hottest trend is a chaos that will produce opportunity. Imagine a collaborative work force, a connected supply chain, and a delighted customer who is a willing brand ambassador. It's all waiting to happen.

Don't handicap your organization or industry by ignoring this globally connected world. Now is the time to develop an education plan for the social enterprise. Embrace it and prosper. Ignore it at your own peril.

Beverly Macy is the CEO of Gravity Summit LLC TM and the Co-Author of The Power of Real-Time Social Media Marketing. She also teaches Global Marketing and Branding and Social Media Marketing for the UCLA Extension. You can send her an email to ask about executive education programs from Gravity Summit TM at