Shopping online used to seem novel. But then traditional commerce and e-commerce merged, until there wasn't any more “online business.” Only business.

A similar shift is unfolding right now with social and mobile technology. The companies that see opportunity in this shift are moving fast, weaving social technologies throughout their operations. Their customers, partners, and employees are demanding a digital experience that is consistent across mobile devices to help them find the information, products and services they need. These companies realize that in order to be more efficient, innovative and sustainable, their businesses have to become social by design.

Here are a few ideas on how your business can become more social: 

Use social technology to connect with customers: Social technology is about more than likes or tweets. It’s about helping customers create the communities and experiences they need to get the most out of the world. Some 60 percent of customers use social media to discover new brands and products, 46 percent of customers use it to strongly influence purchase decisions, and 40 percent check social media before making purchase decisions, according to a recent study. Your customers are already talking about your brand on their social networks. Connect with them socially, and they can become brand advocates.

Italian poultry leader Amadori Group has been using social technologies to interpret the web as an infinite focus group. By creating different sites for different audiences and listening to and engaging with those communities, the company is picking up insights and using them to respond to customers’ changing tastes, and turning customers into advocates.

Provide social tools so community members can share with one another – and keep coming back: Social networks need to be useful. Smart organizations aren’t just tailoring their social media offerings to their audience, they’re making sure they’re connected to other kinds of information and services that their customers, partners and employees need.

Become a social business by doing more than simply building a social network: You must be committed to constantly collecting and making sense of the vast amount of big data that social networks and the people within them create. About 81 percent of purchasers get product purchase advice from social networks. Who is saying what and why, and how you tap into that particular conversation, is critical to your success.

Being a social business isn’t a marketing push. It’s an economic reality. During the next five years, 95 percent of standout organizations will focus on getting closer to the customer and 57 percent are more likely to let people use social and collaborative tools, according to an IBM study. Going forward, social business will be the only way to do business.