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Why have I chosen to write today about a shopping trip to Hollister’s clothing store in the Dundrum Shopping Center to buy my daughter some items of clothing? What has it got to do with social, online business or even social business.

Well rather a lot, actually.

Part of what social business means to me is, people are looking to deal with people and brands, not companies. Social platforms enable people to now interact with brands in a way never before possible. We all see the brands that are succeeding despite a raging depression in Ireland and difficult trading conditions world wide.

Apple, Starbucks, Coke Cola and of course Hollister, I could mention other brands as well but let’s keep this short-ish.

My daughter, 15 years old, is like her mother, a fashionista, she likes her clothing and knows her brands. I was given some of her Christmas money to go to the Hollister store while in the Dundrum SC, with instructions on what two items I was to purchase.

This is how my education on the power of this brand unfolded. On arriving at Dundrum I looked at a number of site maps to find the location of the store. To my surprise this was not on the first two maps I looked at. Finally after finding a map with the store location included I followed the directions given and there I was standing looking at a shop entrance with NO name over the door identifying it, wondering to myself, is it or isn’t it.

Could this be where I need to go, I was not sure, two small sale banners were either side of the doorway, no mention of the company name. So I decided to enter, now having traveled a lot over the years and having a fashion conscious wife, we have seen the inside of far to many shops for my liking, but nothing like this. It was dark, nothing was priced, you had difficulty seeing what colour items were. It was all laid out in a way professional shop fitters would warn you, do not do this.

Taking it all in was difficult, to understand that this branch of Hollister is in the top five of it’s biggest grossing shops world wide, just blew my mind. It was all about the BRAND and as my mind began to unscramble this, I realised all that I believe Social Business to be was at work here.

In the second paragraph I mentioned “Social” was about people talking to people and brands, here was the brand at work. The shop was super busy, the lay out was cool and the vibe in the store was very young and vibrant. Social platforms have provided the tools for people to deal with people inside these brands and they can smell out the BS merchants really quickly. My daughter told me that she and her friends see the brand mentioned all the time on Facebook. This company knows it’s customers, where they spend their time, what it customers want and boy do they deliver.

Companies need to understand that begin Social is holistic, it has to be embedded in all processes within the company, to really harness the power externally. Small companies can achieve this, if they put in place the correct strategy and most importantly understand what their customers want, even if the same customers do not, to paraphrase Steve Jobs.