I’ve been struggling with this question for some time now, I could go in so many directions on this question but, I’ll just share some random thoughts. Why is it that we default to our old conditioning when we don’t understand something? It’s a natural human behavior to either lash out or try to fit what we know to make things work. The square block into the round hole kind of thinking. Some businesses treat Social Media like any other advertising channel, they continue to practice what they have always done, they advertise, they yell, and then try to force you to listen, and then force you to buy. A HUGE mistake if you are asking me. The future of business is not business as usual friends, we are in the midst of a paradigm shift we can’t control with old practices.

To make matters even worse, the mobile movement is going to reshape not only how we communicate, but the landscape of commerce in the digital world. But that’s another topic for another time. The RESET button is being pushed, business is trying to prevent that reset. Why? They don’t understand what it means, and worse yet, they realize they can’t control it.

In order for the business of the future to survive, they will have to figure out how to give up some control to consumers. Provide access before revenue, actually listen to their customers, build a different relationship, and hire the right people who have a better understanding of this space called Social Media. This list is long and confusing, it requires a willingness to admit your business doesn’t get it. Humility will take you along way if you are willing to risk embarrassment.

In my community, we have people being hired to market on social networks, some of these people either don’t understand what to do, or they are being told to do things in a traditional manner because that’s what they know and understand. Business owners need to get out of the way, but how can they, they are wired to be in control. Taking risks in business these days only seems to happen in the start-up phase, why is that, probably because they believe the community needs what they are offering and will do whatever it takes to make it (risk). Once established, they lose they ability to risk again because they go into a management mode over what got them there in the first place.

Social Media has the ability to keep your business moving forward if you are willing to risk again. Let me give you a very low level, low risk, and simple example.

When a company wants to change something, it could be anything, what do they do? They go into the board room and try to find a solution to the problem, they look inward rather than outward. They try to solve their problem with the same thinking that got them to where they are, with a problem. Why not go out onto one of the Social Networks like Twitter or FaceBook and ask the world for a solution to your problem. You will be very surprised at the response you will get from the people formerly known as consumers. These are smart people, why not hire them for free and have them help you solve your challenge. Talk about building trust, an opportunity to actually have a relationship with those who buy your products and services. Your transparency and willingness to listen changes the relationship at a level yet to be calculated.

You as the business owner or leader, have an opportunity to take this even farther, what if you were to recognize the person or person’s responsible for solving your problem in a very public way? I’ll let you ponder that one.

We all are becoming very public, more and more we are putting our lives out there for all to see and learn. There is a risk in that act alone, consider long and hard what you put on the Internet, it’s now your legacy once it’s out there.

Building relationships is not new or changing, it like 60% of commerce has merely gone via the digital realm, that changes the rules, ummmm….what rules? Maybe the rules are the problem, maybe that is what the business world struggles with most, I think it still goes back to one thing and one thing only, Control.

When it’s all said and done, Social Media is not that complicated really. It’s forcing businesses to be human rather than machines that run by unchangeable rules. Start giving your business away to customers, let them help you and more importantly, treat them with the respect they deserve. Why? Because that’s what a Social Business does, it values those the same way you value people in your personal life. Stop trying to complicate Social Media by thinking too much. I could go long and deep on this topic but I’ll let you do comment and add value to the subject.