How the hungry corporate caterpillar hatched into a social butterfly

Never mix business with pleasure. That’s what they used to say. Perhaps they just meant don’t get caught in flagrante with your secretary, but let’s just say it was a belief that our corporate and social lives belonged in two separate spheres. But ‘they’ didn’t know that Web 2.0 was coming. ‘They’ didn’t have the foresight to see the two worlds were on a collision course that would form a whole new dimension: the corporate social sphere.

Business has become social. CRM – much to the Daily Mail’s horror – has become a social media interaction. Jason Lewis calls it ‘spying’ for a company to monitor and react to online sentiment. For the customer in question, it means passively receiving customer service. Rather than waiting in a call centre queue, the customer simply has a rant on Facebook and waits for a customer services representative to actively come straight to them.

Business has become personal. As recently reported by Cleveland Ohio Business News, the early days of social networking sites led to embarrassing blows for companies, when employees failed to realise that their personal social networking accounts were very much in the ‘public’ domain. We’re all a little older and wiser now. We know how to set those drug-fuelled orgy photos to private.

But in the corporate social sphere the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Social networking pages become resources for building more personal relationships with colleagues and clients. ‘Following’ industry peers on Twitter and LinkedIn becomes a constant and unlimited reach to new contacts and news.

You can look at the corporate social sphere in two ways. You can argue that the business world has invaded our personal lives and in doing so, ultimately infringed on our privacy. Or, you can look at it the other way. Our personal lives have invaded the business world. We’re not starchy, formal cogs in a machine, we’re an interwoven web of relationships – and the better those relationships are, the easier it makes it to get up on Monday morning.

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