Social Business Design [Infographic]

by · September 26, 201220 comments

I’m fascinated by the evolving thought leadership around the subject of social business.

I believe in the idea that organizations adopting the use of social technology, flattening their corporate structure and making the shift towards less siloed communication and operational models will be in a better position to achieve their business objectives as the marketplace becomes more digitally connected.

As an idea or concept, social business is complex. The folks at Dachis Group offer this definition:

Social business draws on trends in technology (e.g., powerful mobile devices, widespread availability of high-speed Internet access, low cost of data storage), work (e.g., always-on culture, globalization), and society (e.g., propensity to share). Companies should care about social business because they can improve business outcomes (i.e., increase revenue or decrease costs). The core principles touch on all areas of a business, whether for business-to-customer engagement, employee-to-employee collaboration, or supply chain optimization. Making social business work requires focus on a company’s culture, connections, content exchanges, and measurement and analytics.

Unfortunately, as the term social business begins to move along the same popularity arc as “social media” it is getting overused and mis-defined to the point of clouding people’s ability to connect with its meaning and context. Recently this reached a boiling point for my esteemed colleague Jason Falls who proclaimed that the term “social business” is bullshit.

Semantics aside, social business presents a set of important ideas that organizational leaders are incumbent to discuss and understand. A post recently published by Dave Gray really helps crystallize the idea of social business design. In The Connected Company Gray uses a series of “city” metaphors to clearly explain how a social business is a “complex, adaptive system.”

His post inspired the following information design. My goal here is to present a visual interpretation of these ideas aimed at building high level understanding and prompting discussion. Let me know your thoughts and ideas about social business. Does it make sense or is it “bullshit”? The comments are yours.


social business design infographic


Map Artwork: Patrick Hoesly via Flickr

Infographic Icons: The Noun Project


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About Mark Smiciklas

Mark Smiciklas

Mark Smiciklas is a Digital Strategist, author and President of Intersection Consulting; a Vancouver based digital marketing agency that teaches organizations how to leverage the dynamics of the web to achieve business goals. Mark is also the managing editor at and is an established marketing and social media practitioner recognized for his visual thinking and practical strategic approach. You can connect with him on Google+.

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • Urbane Media

    Mark, Hello
    The much required change in culture is such a challenge for marketers attempting to integrate social into their marketing package. That topped with so many companies marketing and branding message is flawed from the start, thus pouring “social” into the mix further muddies an already convoluted situation. 

  • BernieBorges

    I’m a strong proponent of social business. It is the maturation of the organization embracing social from a cultural and technology perspective. It assumes that being social is strategic, not tactical, which assumes that the enterprise is social, not just the marketing department. 

    Social media has become mainstream. However, many organizations are failing at it because they are not a social business. They view social media as broadcast channels. A social business views social media as channels of engagement and collaboration. A social business understands the benefits to the business are as much internal among employees, as they are external with customer engagement at the individual level. And, a social business understands it’s not free. It requires planning and adoption of technology solutions to harness its potential on the business.  

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  • Meagan Dahl

    Embracing social business means embracing a structural change in not only how business is conducted externally, but also how the cogs turn internally. 

    I believe in social business, but I understand that it is constant process of strategy and reframing. Technologies change, company culture changes, and roles and responsibilities change and lightening speed…no wonder people are resistant to buy into this seemingly chaotic world! I think if companies are going to invest in social media and technologies, the need to make an in-kind investment in their organizational structure and their employees needs. 

    Large companies and brands are starting to acknowledge that business as usual is not conducive to success in the social world. I’m thinking of Yahoo and their attempts to create a culture as an attempt to keep their talent on staff. How large-scale these changes will be is anyone’s guess, but I think it’s going to be more than providing free lunches and xboxes for staff.

  • KatFrench

    I like this metaphor, Mark. There are also some interesting parallels to draw between social business as a corrective to silos and stifling departmental structure in the same way that mixed-use neighborhoods are a corrective to “bedroom communities” and the urban/suburban paradigm of the last half of the last century. 

    Humans flourish best in a friendly, diverse, “walkable” environment, whether that’s in a company or a community. 

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