What defines the social enterprise? Pondering this question, and before Googling it, I came up with three descriptions:

1) A business that employs social responsibility as a strategic imperative.

2) A business that uses social networking for competitive advantage, and

3) A business that connects its employees via enterprise social network solutions.

No kidding. Take a look at the Wikipedia article on Social Enterprise. By the way, the article could use some work for any of you Wikipedia contributors in the #SMXChat community.

Image credit: socialenterprise.net

Call me a dreamer. I envision the day when the world sincerely embraces the philosophy that a business can make a reasonable profit while embracing social responsibility.  Call it “Back to the Future,” because I can recall the time where businesses behaved just this way. When we had no choice but to support ‘local,’ because it was all we knew. We could ride our bikes to where we spent our money. And business owners lived in our communities. It was a mutually-supportive, mutually-beneficial relationship.

So it may never be like our childhood again, but you know, social and digital give us a unique opportunity to re-create that feeling in the contemporary context. Social and digital communities are not so different from where we grew up. Just a lot bigger. We have favorites places where we hang out, people make friends, we support one another’s efforts, and we buy stuff. And like in the past, we try to re-create something mutually respectful and beneficial – I think many consumers crave this, and we talk about it enough in social forums. Do businesses and brands buy into it though?

We’ll see you on Tuesday, May 6 3PM EDT 8 GMT on #SMXChat. Ready to discuss:

Q1) How do you define the social enterprise?  

Q2) ‘Social business’ = ‘Social enterprise’? How or how not?

Q3) Social responsibility is usually in the domain of not-for-profits. Are non-profits social enterprises by default?

Q4) How does leadership ‘sell’ a social enterprise to stakeholders?

Q5) What comes first, the social enterprise or its constituents? i.e., do you build it and they will come?

Bonus Q6) Is crowdsourcing or opensource a preferred development model for social enterprises?