10 questions with social business expert Amber Naslund

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One of the best-known names in social media thought is Amber Naslund.

The co-author of the best-selling business book The NOW Revolution, about the impact that social media has on how businesses work today, Amber is also the co-founder and president of SideraWorks, a social business consultancy that helps companies adapt to the complex business implications of the social web. She speaks professionally about social business and strategy at dozens of industry conferences and private events every year.

We asked Amber to answer a few questions about social media, marketing and booze (hey, why not?). Here’s what she had to say.

Without giving too much away, what is the differences between social media and social business?
At its most simplistic level, social media are the platforms and tools that people use to communicate interactively. Social business is the process of adapting to the impact social media and optimizing your business accordingly, whether it’s better collaboration internally or sharing information better with customers or partners, for the benefit of everyone involved. That has implications across the board, from culture to process to even organizational design.

Social media platforms and activities can be part of that, but they’re not the same thing.

Where is social media in terms or maturity today? Where do you see it going in the near future?
I’d say on a scale of one to ten, we’re at about a four. Businesses are definitely starting to grok that social is happening around them, some are starting to harness its potential for largely external communication efforts like marketing, and many are kicking the tires. Social business really is the next phase of adoption and maturity, but it’s only a handful of companies that are currently undertaking the large scale investment required to build an entire social layer into their business. That will continue to increase.

You blog all over the place, and have for a long time. What advice do you have for writers?
Write a lot. Read a lot. Worry less about making it perfect, and worry more about the discipline of doing it all the time, whether or not you publish a word. Like anything else worth doing, getting better at writing takes practice and lots and lots of work.

You’ve advised Fortune 500 companies on social business strategy. What question did they ask the most?
The biggest question, at least in the last year or so, is “How do we scale this?” A business with any level of complexity is going to need to build infrastructure and processes to support growth in activity and all the ripple effects of those things, like the demand for greater speed in customer service. That’s a big part of the reason we started SideraWorks.

What questions most surprise you?
I’ve been doing this for a while. Very little shocks me anymore, though I admit to still being puzzled by people who don’t see any value in this whatsoever. They’re still out there, and I guess while skepticism or caution doesn’t surprise me, some of the absolute resistance still does.

You’re a mom wearing a lot of hats. How do you structure your time to make sure everything gets done? Any productivity tips?
Who said everything gets done?? HAHAHAHA. Ha. Haha. Hang on, I have a stitch in my side.

Seriously though, abandon the idea of getting it all done. There’s always something else for the list. I work a decent day, 8-11 hours on average split up across weird hours. That’s one advantage to being your own boss. But I don’t believe in the “work yourself to the bone” heroism thing. I did when I was younger, and learned quickly that it’s a quick road to a) burnout and b) telling people through your actions that you don’t know how to set boundaries, for yourself or for others.

I have my daughter only half the time, so when I’m home and not traveling, I’m a total homebody and spend as much time as I can with her. I know someday she’ll be all “Mooo-oom, go away”, but right now she wants me around, so I’m milking that for all I can.

You’ve said you’re a bit introverted and that speaking at events can drain rather than energize you. What are you getting out of the experience to keep going with it as much as you do?
There is nothing – and I mean nothing – more gratifying than having someone come up to you after a talk and tell you that what you said helped change their perspective on something. That “lightbulb moment” is awesome.

And I do love people and I’m super social (otherwise this would be the worst career in the world), it just means that I need some downtime after I do all that stuff to recharge for the next time.

We know Jason Falls loves bourbon. What drink can we buy you?
Prosecco is my favorite thing, though I’m known to sip a Manhattan from time to time.

What’s the best advice anyone’s ever given you?
Take yourself less seriously. I still suck at that one sometimes.