“Get aboard the “S-train” or else. SM/Social Media. SE/Social Employees. SO/Social Organization. (ALL HANDS.) SB/Social Business. Cacophonous engagement of one—AND ALL—with every aspect of the enterprise, inside and out, is determining the difference between winners and losers.” by Tom Peters (@Tom_Peters)

ALL Aboard!

A few weeks ago, I profiled the outstanding work Tom Peters (@Tom_Peters) was doing to promote cultures of gratitude in business communities. Of course, we felt this was especially important to do, since so much of his positive energy was directed right at us and our book, The Social Employee. Gratitude is an often overlooked part of business. Naturally, we’ve all got our jobs to do, but we sometimes forget that, no matter our title or role within an organization, our primary duties are to be good communicators and forge strong working relationships.

At its heart, this is what we mean when we talk about the concept of the social employee. Social employees are activated and engaged around their work. They care about what they do and how it relates to their organization’s mission, vision, and values—and not just in some superficial way. But they won’t invest that kind of energy unless they see that same kind of energy invested in them. In truth, it’s a very simple—and very human—concept. But that doesn’t make it any less essential.

Got your ticket to the S-Train?

Since our last post on him, Tom Peters has come up with a pretty handy metaphor for how all these social business components come together: The S-Train! Right off the bat, we love the underlying principle of this metaphor, since in order to get on the train you have to climb aboard—or in other words, you have to buy in. In a recently released document Peters calls “Some (Important) Stuff,” he lays out what he considers the key “S’s” to getting the S-Train rolling: Social Media (SM), Social Employees (SE), Social Organizations (SO), and Social Business (SB).

If this were Monopoly, I’d be tempted to say that the SB Railroad is the most valuable property on the board, trumping even Boardwalk and its fancy hotel. SB Railroad may not cost the most to buy, but for whatever reason everyone keeps landing on it, rewarding your investment over and over again. Peters’s S-Train metaphor is so successful because it allows us to look at the individual components of this social process and see how one element enables the success of the other. So, in the spirit of Peters’s post, let’s expand this concept a little further and take a closer look at its component pieces:

  • Social Business (SB): These are your tracks, the underlying fundamental concept around which all the rest of the machinery is built. Over the past several years, many pioneering brands have toiled away laying these tracks. They did the hard work, and now it’s time for the rest of us to get moving!
  • Social Organization (SO): This is the S-Train itself, the vessel that gets you from point A to point B. However, it’s not going to get you there on its own. It is, after all, just a machine, a means to an end. It needs an engineer, someone to fuel the fire and propel it along the tracks.
  • Social Executive (SX): These are your engineers. They know their S-Train like it’s an extension of themselves. They pay attention to every little pitch and hum as it moves along the way, feeding the furnace with something that will truly ignite the fire: the organization’s mission, vision, and values.
  • Social Employees (SE): These are the public front—the S-Train’s conductors, ticket agents, bar staff, you name it! They don’t operate the S-Train exactly, but they keep it in order. If even one of them is absent from their post, the whole operation suffers. Social employees reach out to the passengers and prospective travelers, embodying the myriad reasons why their S-Train is the best fit for that customer’s needs.
  • Social Media (SM): Do you hear that whistle blowing? Sounds like the S-Train is in town! Even as we head into 2014, it’s hard to deny that there’s still something exciting about hearing an approaching train, something that fills us with inspiration, confidence, and a little bit of awe. The whistle, in other words, let’s the world know you’re coming and that they’d better be ready for you.

If your S-Train is running smoothly, if all other components are working as they should, your customers will feel the thrill of the train whistle every time your brand reaches out on social media. But don’t forget that the whistle is the last piece of the machine. Businesses have a responsibility to get everything else up and running first. That’s what inspires the confidence in the whistle. That’s what makes social engagement work.

Are you ready to climb aboard the S-Train on your way to the @SocialEmployee revolution?


Below are recent endorsements for The Social Employee (McGraw-Hill, August 2013) by Tom Peters and David Aaker on their social networks, but if you want to see more of their endorsements click here.

Tom Peters CROP_W Favorite Biz Book Nov


Tom Peters (Twitter) attribution PPT

Tom Peters signature copy
In The Social Employee, we go behind the scenes with several leading brands—such as IBM, AT&T, Dell, Adobe, Southwest Airlines, Cisco, Acxiom, and Domo—pulling the lid off the inspiring social business success stories that have propelled these companies into the 21st century. These cutting-edge brands have all come to the same realization: the path to social business lies through empowering the social employee.

See what others are saying about The Social Employee and order your copy today!


Please check out @SocialEmployee media buzz! Click Here

Join @SocialEmployee Google+

“Great brands have always started on the inside, but why are companies taking so long to leverage the great opportunities offered by internal social media? . . . The Social Employee lifts the lid on this potential and provides guidance for businesses everywhere.” JEZ FRAMPTON, Global Chairman and CEO, Interbrand


Amazon_agold-bookThe Social Employee offers an unparalleled behind-the-scenes look at the social business success stories of some of the biggest brand names in the business world, including IBM, AT&T, Dell, Adobe, Southwest Airlines, Cisco, Acxiom, and Domo. These cutting-edge brands have all come to the same realization: the path to social business lies through empowering the social employee.

The brands that leverage their employee base in order to engage customers and prospects through social media are the ones destined to win the marketing wars. This book not only details the astronomical rise of the social employee, but also outlines the innovative methods that leading companies have employed to foster cultures of enthusiastic and engaged workers.

FORMcGrawHill_RedEWORD by David C. Edelman, Global Co-Leader, Digital Marketing & Sales Practice, McKinsey & Company

AFTERWORD by Kevin Randall, Vice President of Brand Strategy & Research at
Movéo Integrated Branding, and a columnist for Fast Company

Download ~> Free Chapter 3 – “Brands Under Pressure”

Good things come to those who sign up for our newsletter.
Join our email list to get the latest insights straight to your inbox.
Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.