Out the gate, most businesses choose to make social media programs part of their Marketing and Communications departments. Those are the departments doing the most external outreach, right? Sales is right up there, along with Business Development, too. When you get down to it, social media, by definition, facilitates more than conversations with clients and prospects; a social channel opens up communication between two parties, no matter where they sit within the orbit of your company.

By all rights, the philosophies and tools living in your external social media outreach should live within the walls of your organization, too. There’s room (and a growing need) to go social, so let’s break down what socializing a business really means.

Going social means breaking down barriers between internal departments.

In a traditional enterprise set-up, employee functions are broken down into departments, with very few crossing paths and very little communication amongst them. In a social enterprise set-up, departments interface with each other regularly via social tools such as internal communities, chat clients, and company-specific micromedia platforms, and that interaction provides a more holistic picture for employees to work from.

Getting insight into how each department impacts another allows your teams to see exactly how they fit into the fold and gives them much-needed intelligence about things like what’s holding up a project or changing its direction. Bridging gaps in enterprise-wide communication through social tools helps put everyone on the same page and breaks down the walls that keep people blind to the bigger picture.

Going social means using social tools and tenets to improve business processes.

In traditional enterprise set-ups, most processes and frameworks for getting things done are antiquated and lean on methods that are clunky and inefficient in today’s business world. Take IT, for instance. In many organizations, people have to submit a work ticket if they’re having an IT issue, and it takes time for an IT team to work through specific tickets, close out, and log the issue as taken care of, for a number of reasons.

What if, instead of a traditional work ticket submission process, a company had an internal community established with a separate section for IT issues? Employees could use a format similar to hashtags to tag what sorts of issues they’re having. IT team members could be assigned specific types of problems, and they could tackle those problems that come through the platform flagged with the corresponding tag. The community platform could be set up to aggregate all IT issues for end-of-week and/or end-of-the-month reporting, and can have an open set-up so anyone on the IT team can log an issue as closed if they know it’s been handled.

This is a high-level example, but the basic premise of infusing a business process with social aspects and supportive tools that smooth out and balance workflow can be tailored to your organization’s and department’s various working processes.

Going social means meeting your customers and clients on their turf.

Traditional enterprise set-ups generally operate outside the bounds of human behavior. What do we mean by that? Businesses act like machines, even though they’re run by people, and treat their customers and clients as anything but fellow human beings with basic wants and problems in need of solving (this is true for both B2C and B2B).

Part of the reason for this disconnect is that businesses have removed themselves from the direct line of interaction. They’ve chosen where and how they want to talk with customers and prospects, instead of going to those customers and prospects to meet them on their turf. That disconnect makes it easy to count your customers as numbers and not as individuals with needs.

Social networks and tools now give businesses the opportunity to get back on the front lines, so individual representatives — people — can talk with customers where they’re already spending time. Person to person, empathetic soul to empathetic soul. While that might sound fluffy, this one-to-one meeting makes customers feel respected, listened to, it makes them tell their friends about their experiences with your company (and thus referring them to you), and it brings them back again and again.

These are just a few examples of what going social really entails. Simply, going social is not about the tools, it’s about figuring out how the true meaning of the word “social” can improve your business. Get creative and think of ways you can integrate the tools to support the methodology.

Have examples of how your organization has started going social? Share with us in the comments!