Why Social Networking is Imperative for Business and Brands

In the wake of the Enterprise 2.0 summit in Boston this week, I have been taking a peek at the blog coverage and thinking through the opportunities and challenges facing organisations struggling to find their way. (BTW, Stephen Collins has a couple of great posts here, which I am sure he will drill down into on his return.)

A clear intersection for me is the collision between the demands/desires of knowledge workers and the expectations of the business/management. The same is true for branding. We are effectively seeing the 20th Century modes of business (command and control) being subverted by the activities of individuals. The strict hierarchies and mechanisms of control are being called into question by active (consumer) participants and employee evangelists determined to achieve outcomes (often in spite of the barriers placed in their way). As Stephen Collins says:

… there is an active and engaged community out there who want to do this stuff in their organisations or are keen to be a part of organisations that do.

And while many businesses/brands react by blocking or disabling access to social networks, the fact remains — the PRACTICE of business (just like the PRACTICE of marketing/advertising) is changing in ways that have never before been imagined. These EMERGENT practices require new skills and flexible thinking … and they may not yet, deliver the value you want. But they will (even the CIA agrees). We (and I do mean “we”) just need to create the connections between the practices, our business strategies and our bottom lines — this is the hard, behind the scenes activities that also need to happen (who said Web 2.0 is all fun and games).

In the meantime, if you are like me, and was unable to attend in person, get your fill of Enterprise 2.0 thinking at the Conference Community site, and start saving for 2009. And before you go, take two minutes to listen to Karen Appleton, VP of Business Development of Box, the file storage utility, talking about the importance of social networks to your business (via Enterprise 2.0 blog).