12/13/2012 02:54 pm ET Updated Feb 12, 2013

It's Time for Businesses to Get Socialized

The flood of evidence continues building the case for a paradigm shift in communication from mass marketing to personal marketing, from traditional media outlets to social media communication strategies. In the very near future, more corporations will be forced to make the change to becoming "social businesses" both internally and externally. Those that don't make this transition may find themselves lagging behind their adaptive competitors.

The sheer volume of users in the social media universe makes it hard to ignore. Each day hoards of consumers and businesses turn to Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets for their communications fix. The venerable IBM, which ushered in the original computer age, now agrees that social is changing the way people connect and the way organizations succeed. Their website includes results from a 2010 McKinsey Global Survey which found that 9 out of 10 companies reported some element of measurable benefits from social business.

Becoming a social business involves engaging, sharing and collaborating with all of a company's stakeholders including employees, customers, prospects, management and investors. The goal is to efficiently utilize social processes to become more adaptive to changing times and more responsive to input. Instead of transmitting information in a controlled one-to-one manner, social allows for almost immediate communication to massive audiences.

In fact the question should no longer be why do we need to become more social, but why aren't we all becoming more social? Very few companies are taking an active role in becoming a social business, with most of them adopting a wait and see approach. This reluctance to jump in may come right from the corporate suite where CEOs at major corporations are participating in social media channels at significantly lower rates than the general public, according to a new study sponsored by Domo and Making matters worse are the results from an IBM survey entitled "From Stretched to Strengthened" which found that an astonishing 71 percent of CMOs feel unprepared for today's market challenges!

These companies are still going by the old marketing playbook and have not yet reached a tipping point where they feel they absolutely need to change to remain competitive. Some of them do have younger marketers coming up through the ranks who are more prepared to handle today's communication challenges, but these laggards need to be aware that other companies are already way out in front of them.

Some companies that are beginning to dip their feet into the social waters are using the same tired tools to develop their strategies. They are still trying to push information at consumers instead of working to engage and draw them in, or they are confusing popularity with influence in their efforts to find online outlets to help spread their message.

What these companies need is a new playbook for the social world. Fortunately one has just been released, Socialized! How the Most Successful Businesses Harness the Power of Social by Mark Fidelman. Mark believes that being social is not a one-time campaign but a year-round ingrained corporate strategy to keep in touch through social at all times. His game plan helps leaders gain the competitive advantage by combining social technologies with internal culture shifts. Insisting that being social is not merely a social presence but a willingness to engage and communicate, Fidelman provides tools to help marketers understand consumers and show them how to build communities in this brave new digital world. More of a textbook than just a book, Socialized! teaches marketers how to abandon the mass media mentality and embrace the social business model.