Decrypting the language of 'social'


The buzzwords of "social"--Enterprise 2.0, Social Media, Social Business, Social Innovation, Social Era--actually mean different things and belong in different contexts, writes Nilofer Merchant in a blog post at Harvard Business Review.

Using the wrong term (or using it the wrong way) represents a risk for CIOs who know they need to talk about these things with marketing and other groups, but aren't exactly clear about the distinctions. "Beyond looking silly, the much bigger risk--the risk to the business--is that when we throw terms around imprecisely, we risk introducing confusion into the strategy we're trying to execute," Merchant writes.

To help clear out the ambiguity, Merchant provides a description and brief history of the most common "social" terms. Better still, she includes a simple cheat sheet in table form, summarizing the implications of each term:

  • Social media: Moving marketing from a monologue to a dialogue.
  • Enterprise 2.0: Tools can speed information flow and tear down silos.
  • Social Business / Social Innovation / Social Entrepreneurship: Make profits and meaning (at the same time).
  • CrowdSourcing / Open Innovation: Leverage others to create value for you.
  • Social Business 2.0: By being more connected (using social tools), a company can generate greater value to all its constituents.
  • Social Era: Connected individuals can now do what once only large centralized organizations could do, which changes organizational structures and individual power.

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