05/14/2013 11:24 am ET Updated Jul 14, 2013

Are You Ready for Social Business?

Recently the Altimeter Group issued a report that showed that "66% of companies cannot link social to business goals."

Just when the Fortune 500 took a deep breath after years of implementing six sigma, ERP, and cloud computing -- along comes social -- social media, social business, social collaboration. Can't a corporation catch a break?

So far, social has not been top-down like these other enterprise efficiency tools. Social is, by nature, a groundswell, a 'bottoms-up' phenomenon. Because so many corporations don't yet have a top-down social strategy, they're surprised when a rogue tweet or Facebook post pops up and blindsides them. Really?

Because nobody at the board level or in legal, or HR, or communications knows anything about social. And they don't want to. Even if they do, they can't exactly explain how tweets and posts might of happened or how any of these 'rogue' activities link to the company's business goals.

Fortune 500 companies need to get smart about social business -- and fast. I can't emphasize enough how important it is for senior teams -- from the CEO on down -- to buck up and get educated on what social means and how it should be implemented throughout the organization.

Author Mark Fidelman even recommends that companies create a Chief Social Officer position -- it's that important to the brand and to the organization's future.

Customers want action. They know that the power of social lies in its immediacy to listen and respond. They also know that because social technology resources are so inexpensive, companies should be able to take more risks, fail fast, and recuperate even faster.

And employees want collaboration. They know there is a treasure trove of knowledge and information within the organization and in the knowledge workers. They want social behind the firewall that helps them do a better job.

To board rooms around the globe: Do something. Put together a Tiger Team and hire me or the Altimeter Group, or IBM Social Business -- but get busy. Fail fast and fast forward.

You can't keep your head in the sand any longer. If you don't take action, you'll wake up one day and realize that everyone is speaking a new language you don't understand.

Beverly Macy is the CEO of Gravity Summit LLC and the co-author of "The Power of Real-Time Social Media Marketing." She teaches Executive Global Marketing, Brand Management, and Social Media Marketing at UCLA Extension. Email her at