Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, 4Square et al) are now at the heart of consumers’ lives. And now their corporate equivalents are rapidly making inroads into corporations. But there is a fundamental difference between consumer requirements and those of enterprises.

Social media for consumers is like a chat “down the pub”. It is a great way of catching up on news, gossip and mates.

Social media for companies MUST BE a better and more efficient way of working. But there are 2 perspectives; tapping social media to listen to what the outside world (customers, analyst, press, competition) are saying about the brand; and internally engaging and empowering employees and partners.

But a question I am often asked is “What is social media?” So the video below gives a current perspective, with some staggering statistics.

The next question is “What social media applications are there for business?” Currently there are a number which are getting high levels of awareness. But enterprises need to look beyond the hype, the early stage pilots to start to establish what is really required.

The one requirement for social media is it is to enable employees to get their job done more easily, more quickly and more effectively. Therefore a standalone social media application, ie without business activity/outcome context, is just idle chatter; an electronic watercooler conversation.

Social media promises so much more than that so expect to see the standalone vendors partner with ERP, CRM or BPM applications to get that context.