How Social Business Will Impact Employees

Image Credit: Dachis Corp & David Armano

“And once you start thinking about using social tools as campaign support, you’re thinking in terms of one-night stands with your customers, not building long-term relationships.” – Peter Kim

Now we’re talking. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of thinking of these social tools merely as a new and inexpensive way to market your product. So what’s next then? Well for one, using these social tools to change the way we work, to build social businesses.

That’s what Dachis Corporation has been working on for some time now.

So what is social business design?

It’s a shift in thinking—less about media and more about tapping the benefits of being a social business in a purposeful way, (Armano). It is a mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive way of considering how a corporation, business unit, or project can create and capture value from today’s emerging technologies and evolving operating environment, (Kim).

To be more explicit, it is using what you think of as social media and other shiny new technologies to create a social infrastructure within a business where everyone is connected and able to contribute in an effort to produce emergent outcomes.

The team at Dachis Corporation has discussed what this looks like and what this potentially means for organizations, but what about individual employees within these companies? Most of us are resistant to change so what should they expect?

Social Business Design + Employees

In truth, I’m not sure. This is all very new, but it’s something I’ve been giving some thought to so please humor me as I explore some of these possibilities at a more micro level:

1.) Bosses will have to be more accountable. With a social business employees should be able to witness many of their bosses’ contributions. And while I don’t suspect they’ll all be on display, the days of a superior shutting the door to their office and spending 3 straight hours on Tweetdeck while an intense strategy discussion rages on in real-time are over.

2.) Along the same lines, employees can expect less political bull shit. That person who puts their coat on the back of their chair and takes a 2-hour lunch won’t get away with it anymore. No contributions in the last 2 hours? Now everyone knows. Social business will make everyone immediately more accountable because if you’re not an active participant in the ecosystem you’re probably not doing your job.

3.) Employees who can extract value, connect ideas and decipher complicated analysis will rise to the top. With the metafilter in place businesses will see not only when, but how people used the resources, put the pieces together and came to a conclusion. This also lets other employees learn from the standout, pulling the middle of the pack up (instead of public education’s current approach.)

4.) “Nicer” people will be more successful. I don’t necessarily mean nicer as in the way your Grandma is nice, but in the sense that people that can work well together in the hivemind will have a leg up on those trying to draw conclusions by themselves (the way we typically do in our current silos.) The marketing guy who understands the way his engineers work will now have the systems in place to leverage that connection for the greater good of the company, in an increasingly more efficient manner I might add.

What are some additional ways employees will be affected by social business design? People that see the big picture and have the ability to weave intricate ideas across various verticals (a combination of a couple from above?) Employees that process and react quickly, with the caveat that they’re providing solid value of course?

What does this all mean for relationship marketing?

In a social business I think it will be more about the work you do than the games you play, the office politics and behind closed doors meetings. It will also make sense to cross verticals and to become more in tune with what other people in your company are doing, are capable of. Sure you have your crew at the water cooler, but now fostering relationships with employees outside your inner circle will help you understand their approach and how your ideas can extend theirs, your bosses, etc.

Obviously this is a relatively new concept, and as such my thoughts on the subject are pretty raw, but please chime in and tell me where you think I’m off. I’ve been debating holding this post until it’s significantly more polished, but I think that would limit the conversation. Instead, please agree/disagree/challenge what I’ve initially laid out and I’ll keep updating this post fleshing out new thoughts and ideas as the discussion progresses.

How will social business impact employees? How does this deviate from our current model? What kind of person will succeed with this type of architecture in place? What other thoughts do you have?


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  • I’d go a step further and say that not just bosses will be more accountable, but the entire company will be held more accountable for their online and offline actions. Ask United Airlines. Ask Barry Judge at Best Buy. Ask Sanyo.

    Social business models break down barriers, leaving them more exposed to criticism, which scares a lot of companies.
    .-= Jackie Adkins´s last blog ..Money Well Spent =-.


    admin Reply:

    I definitely think accountability will play a role in a social business regardless of whether or not the communication is client facing or not. Internally everyone will be able to witness and gauge your level (AND VALUE) of participation.

    In response to criticism, that’s something I’m intrigued to watch unfold. What companies will the be the first to adopt a social business architecture? What’s said to convince them it’s the right approach? I think we have to continue emphasizing the fact that criticism should sometimes be embraced as a way to grow and shape our approach into something that will resonate with our fans/consumers/constituents.


  • From Brazen Careerist site…

    Hi Ryan,

    Great start on this subject! You’ve certainly given it a lot of thought. I especially like the fourth point that you bring up, specifically when you say, “the marketing guy who understands the way his engineers work will now have the systems in place to leverage that connection for the greater good of the company”.

    This is such an important point both for employees relating to each other internally, getting out from under their desks and connecting with each other to collaborate and improve interdepartmental understandings, but also this can be extended to include the concept of creating an understanding between a company’s employees AND customers.

    Now suddenly, people have a stronger connection with others in their department, their entire company, their investors and their customers…wow, talk about an invaluable perspective that wasn’t attainable before. At the very least, not for such a low overhead company investment.

    Then you bring in the idea of creating internal channels for sharing, filtering, consolidating, examining and acting on this information, and you’ve got quite a dynamic, proactive, resourceful and sustainable internal program in the works.

    Exciting, no? I’d be curious to hear how you can expand on this further and maybe incorporate it into some of your thinking.

    .-= Justin Boone´s last blog ..The paddle and the ball =-.


    admin Reply:


    Thanks so much taking the time to contribute to the discussion, and I REALLY appreciate you cross-posting the comment from Brazen.

    And I love that you’ve extended the conversation to the customers as this is somewhere I’d hoped it would trend. There’s no doubt that on certain platforms having (and being able to efficiently collate customer contributions) will provide invaluable insights to companies that are genuinely listening.

    In the above post, I’m assuming the internal channels are already built in components of the social business itself prior to the notion of how it affects employees. And yes, it’s extremely exciting — not only the fact that new outcomes will invariably emerge, but with a sharp people at the helm teams will be able to predict trends and make moves before they’re forced to (h/t to David Armano, whose content helped me conclude just that.)

    I guess the next question, and one I’ve yet to delve into is what are some limitations. At what rate can we anticipate internal adoption? What about employees who scoff at work/life balance and work on Sunday morning’s to ’stay ahead?’ Certainly, there hard work is appreciated, but will it create disdain/affect unity from within? Is this the nature of the beast? Will these kinds of things sort themselves out naturally?


    Justin Boone Reply:


    Thanks for the reply. The questions you bring up are definitely at the core of this issue and most likely, they aren’t questions that we can fully answer on our own. It is our job to be ambassadors to others in our workplaces, educating others about the value of internal social tool adoption.

    With time, I think we’ll see dramatic changes in the way businesses operate, both internally and externally, with the adoption of advanced listening and communication tools and technologies. For now, we can only act as participants, listening, sharing and communicating with each other, proving to others the value of this type of work and actively playing a role in shaping the way this will roll out into mainstream.
    .-= Justin Boone´s last blog ..The paddle and the ball =-.


  • The most important product of a social business model is a group of empowered employees completely aligned with the company’s mission and overall goals. Larger companies will be able to weed out those who don’t take a proactive and comprehensive approach to the “bigger picture” leaving only the employees who truly believe in the work they do. As you highlighted, this leads to more efficiency from top to bottom.

    A small but effective example: The start up I’m involved with uses a company wiki for EVERYTHING. All employees can see what everyone else is up to, from daily to-do lists to recent contributions.

    From our end, we’ve become extremely efficient by encouraging transparency and participation from everyone.
    .-= Pcambron´s last blog ..UNDER CONSTRUCTION =-.


  • I published prematurely.

    For a large company though, how much time and cost would be involved in setting up necessary systems and training employees to use them?

    Great post, and hope you blog about it again soon
    .-= Pcambron´s last blog ..UNDER CONSTRUCTION =-.


    admin Reply:

    @Patrick – I agree that it’s significantly easier to adopt this in smaller companies (many start-ups probably already have similar infrastructures), but I do think some big companies will definitely take this route. For most it will be a slow (possibly agonizing process), but once they come out the other side I suspect, for most companies, it will be worth it.

    It’s definitely complicated, and I’ve only scratched the surface here, but I think prior to the systems and training, the vast majority of big companies will need a complete culture overhaul. From top down, and bottom up. It will be interesting to watch how social business design continues to progress.


  • This is one of your best insights I’ve read from you since I met you. Great post Ryan, and to be honest, you’ve caught me off guard. I haven’t thought about this long enough, but the only thing I can be certain, is that things are changing.

    I’m guessing power distribution will not be a company-customer thing only, it will also happen within the company. Transparency, communication and morale will be the pillar’s of tomorrow’s (today’s?) business.

    I’ll think more about this, you’ve made some excelent points. Great work man.
    .-= Carlos Miceli´s last blog ..The Better Choice =-.


  • A few observations:

    Inter-disciplinary thinking will become more critical

    The bees who cross-pollinate successfully will be in greater demand

    Which means college degrees will matter less in the future, on-the-job experience and attitude will matter more

    Not sure about:

    How will this effect the way people get paid – hourly/ weekly or on end project results?

    More virtual or face-to-face work environments?

    The end of the mega-corporations and the rise of [smaller] regional majors aligned with similar groups across the world – flexible, cost efficient and constantly on the move?

    Will the pace of innovation increase?

    And finally what does it mean for people on the move?

    will the number of people moving across the world for better careers/ lives be greater than ever or will there be a remarkable reduction with virtual offices

    in other words, is the world a village again?

    more questions than answers 🙂


    admin Reply:

    Anita, you’re on a role lately. You’ve added some fantastic contributions and extended the conversation with some awesome additional questions.

    I HOPE that many of these companies will work with a ROWE (Results Only Work Environment) approach. Isn’t that what matters? That the work gets done. Theoretically, wouldn’t social systems increase the likelihood that jobs got completely more efficiently?

    I suspect more virtual, but I think there’s typically a place for the face-to-face interactions at well. I think this will largely depend on the industry as well.

    I doubt we see the end of mega-corporations, but I do think we’ll see more niche (whether that’s regional or otherwise) players have a bigger impact in the next 5 years.

    I think innovation does increase, significantly. “Emergent outcomes.”


  • Polished or not this is so good I had to read it 3 times to make sure I respond in kind!

    I think that social business works both for and against employees. All the points you bring up are EXCELLENT, but they all focus on ways that hard working, intelligent and genuine people will get ahead. These are people who will use any tools at their disposal, not just social business. I agree, however, that for the first time in a long time these people are getting recognized more than the people who are just “really good” at playing “the game.”

    I also think that social business will begin to erode some of the relationships “built” within companies. I’ve seen many people either ingenuine, lazy or just plain oblivious attempt to “build relationships” using social business tools. Mid-level management talking about how they “really are friends” with the regional VP of operations because he accepted her request on FB. (I wish I was making this up…) Then being extremely frustrated and confused as he posts for 4 promotions and isn’t hired for any, cause “I know what they want…I’m friends with all of them!”

    Additionally, you will always have those people that are just smooth and savvy and much craftier than any of the hard working intelligent driven folks. Many of the same people who have learned to manipulate the current system will eventually learn how to manipulate the social business system. And especially while we have management and executives that may not use it (or if they do, really use it correctly)

    Social business IS the next thing to really affect the performance, advancement and relationships of employees (both laterally and vertically) but I don’t think enough people know how to use it TRULY effectively to monopolize all the benefits you outline above.


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  • I am a big supporter of Social Business Design- I go back a way but this is the logical next step that is being built out of the old days intranet, CRM, etc. The new topics of interest now is #scrm adding social to CRM, wiki’s community platforms- externally and internally. The Google Wave..the tech will always be moving.. the heavy lifting will be – who are the change agents( pirates) that can do it, where is the executive leadership to support it, and for the CFO the ROI in real dollars measurable. Home Depot, UPS Coke here in town are in various stages of these changes however none are fully coordinated that I know of… this is the edge for Biz big time.. It will be the equal to the industrial revolution-I just put up Jeff Dachis slideshare from IDEA2009 presentation Also it will be fun and interesting to watch Dachis eat their own dog food as they grow which they will. I am also watching how CP+B the #1 ad agency who is driving this thru their company does it. Their website is really walking this walk I have been around the block in business for a long time but these are the most exciting times I have had.. Look forward to your blog and great commentors too…


  • When one studies the issue at hand, i have to agree with your conclusions. You understandably show cognition about this subject and i have much to learn after reading your post.Lot’s of salutations and i will come back for any further updates.