This isn’t to say that you can just cut employees loose on Twitter and hope that everything turns out okay. During our interviews for The Social Employee, every organization we spoke to had some form of a social media policy—such as IBM’s frequently adopted guidelines. But such a policy is really only the beginning. As Mark Burgess recently proposed in the inaugural issue of the Rutgers Business Review, empowering social employee advocates requires an entire culture shift—or as he called it, a social ecosystem.

The idea for the social ecosystem came after mounting evidence that a majority of social initiatives fail. The reasons for this vary, but are generally a result of a lack of clear objectives, poor integration within the company, and failure to generate buy-in among both executives and employees. To borrow the old saying, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Whether social or otherwise, programs without a clear goal and buy-in aren’t very likely to succeed.

Identify Leaders. Build an Ecosystem

One fundamental pillar of the social ecosystem is leadership through a social governance council. This group is comprised not only of executives seeking to drive innovation, but social leaders thrutgers-business-review-blue-focus-marketing-ecosystem-froughout the organization as well. These social leaders are essential for establishing and driving the proper environment for social adoption to thrive. That’s why, in my work with the Economist Intelligence Unit, we focused on traits such as storytelling, culture shaping, and visionary thinking when determining the top social leaders in business today.

Naturally, building a social ecosystem takes time and some trial and error. Such an investment may give brands cold feet. But make no mistake, with over 90 percent of brands planning or already implementing some form of social employee advocacy program, doing so is more than just a good idea. It’s a business imperative.






Download “Sharing the Future:  The New Social Ecosystem” by Mark Burgess.  Rutgers Business Review. Vol. 1. No 1, pp. 107-122.

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