Jay Baer

Social Media Companies: 3 non-obvious ways social media will impact big companies

September 6th, 2011

In many (perhaps most) big companies, we are past the point of debating why we should do social media and more often wondering how we can do social media well.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that many organizations are making it much more about the media than it is about the social, using traditional incentives and rote communications crumbs cast off from dusty email newsletters.

Smart companies recognize that social media is about a lot more than a Facebook page and that understanding how to BE social is the key to success , more so than worrying how to DO social.

The companies committed to baking sociability into all corners of the operation (what we often call “social business design” these days) will find social media providing three big, non-obvious impacts in the coming years:

1. Internal Social Communication

The use of social networking for internal information dissemination, team-building, and knowledge capture and transfer can become the norm, not the exception. As operating cultures continue to pick up speed, big businesses will turn to internal social networks (the new Intranets) to build connections between far-flung team members.

2. Widely Distributed Participation

Social networking can potentially make everyone in the company a part of marketing. Social media and social networking are unique in that employees and customers use the same tools to communicate in their personal lives as the company is trying to use professionally.

Employees aren’t making TV commercials at night, or designing magazine ads on the weekend. However, they are using social networks to interact with family and friends, and businesses are trying to play in the same space. The upside is that every employee can potentially be a way to expand the reach of the company’s message.

Harnessing the personal social graph of employees who volunteer to occasionally talk about the company in social networks is a huge opportunity for large organizations.

3. Business Intelligence


The business intelligence potential of social networking will be widely distributed and decentralized throughout the organization. Instead of a “social media center of excellence” using listening tools to determine what’s being said about the company, these functions will be decentralized, with business units at the product and geographical level conducting their own highly focused listening and analysis programs. This will increase speed and data relevancy across the entire operation.

Sure, you can use social media to engage your fans and provide customer service. But it can also provide so much more. Are you looking for ways to take social media beyond the obvious?

Jay Baer, coauthor of, The Now Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter and More Social, will be a keynote speaker at MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2011 in Boston and San Francisco, and every attendee will receive a copy of the book.

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Jay Baer

About Jay Baer

Jay Baer is a tequila-loving social media strategist and speaker, and President of social consultancy Convince & Convert. Founder of five companies, he's worked with over 700 brands since 1994, including 25 of the Fortune 1000.

His Convince & Convert blog is ranked among the world's top marketing resources, and he's the co-author of the much ballyhooed, forthcoming book The NOW Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter, and More Social.

Before becoming involved with digital marketing, he was a political consultant; a marketing director for an environmental services company and a spokesman for a state government agency.

Jay Baer is a keynote speaker at MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2011 in Boston, September 26-27, and San Francisco, October 24-25.

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  1. September 6th, 2011 at 12:54 | #1

    Excellent assessment, Jay. In your mind, what would be a specific example of number one in action? I know that a lot of businesses already use internal chat software for inter-office communication – it never occurred to me that social networking sites might be used for this purpose as well.

  2. September 7th, 2011 at 12:03 | #2

    Hi @Emma

    Today, probably employee-only Linkedin Groups are the most common. Bain has one. ExactTarget has one for their resellers.

  3. September 7th, 2011 at 12:31 | #3


    Nice. It’s an element of working the social side of online that I had not considered.

    After a year of methodically participating on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin – keeping detailed accounts of what was mentioned and response – I’ve begun to recast my approach. Your comments have helped.

    How does one “be” social, while tracking what they’ve been doing in this environment? My past method used templates for talking to different groups of people. Your explanation, though, seems to revolve more around “just being me.”

    What’s your advice for someone who wants to participate, yet track the accountability of time and effort devoted to social media?

    Thanks, in advance, for your response.

  4. September 7th, 2011 at 14:19 | #4

    @Ken Dardis
    Ken, you still want to track what you’re doing in each venue (I use Argyle Social for that purpose) but fundamentally, the tools always change. It won’t always be Facebook + Twitter + Linkedin. The rise of Google Plus recently shows that. So if you get too focused on “doing” social, you inevitably get caught up in tools-centrism. The better plan is tools-agnosticism, where you focus on what you’re looking to accomplish overall, and use each tool as it comes and goes to accomplish your larger objectives.

  5. September 7th, 2011 at 14:45 | #5

    Hi Jay,

    Nice Article. I really like the point you make about social media developing for internal communication. The company that I work for has just begun to embrace the use of certain social media platforms for internal networking as well as external. We’re still in the infancy of it but I can see the paradigm beginning to shift and it’s really interesting.

  6. September 7th, 2011 at 15:02 | #6

    Great post Jay and very accurate! What a great way for big companies to break down those marketing silos and make every employee a brand evangelist and in the process humanizing the company. Like @zappos did!

    You give them much to think about!


  7. September 7th, 2011 at 15:46 | #7

    The business intelligence is critical to making social media worth the time. It should be so much about the media as it should be about engagement.

  8. September 9th, 2011 at 11:56 | #8

    I agree, Jay…and I disagree.

    It’s about both.

    Companies definitely need to learn to engage in social business. They need to get all employees involved and become fully networked companies (under the McKinsey definition); they need to pay close attention to the Altimeter Group social readiness study.

    At the same time, if they want to be visible and get people buzzing about them, they need to think like publishers and behave like media companies. Producing content is of paramount importance.

    Do one and skip the other and you put your organization at risk. It’s not either/or. Companies have to be equally adept at both social AND media.

  9. September 10th, 2011 at 12:44 | #9


    I’m in agreement with your points, and would take them even farther. Our Enterprise Social Media Framework details dozens of other ways enterprises can benefit from social media, many of them inside the firewall. Most people are blinded by the potential for social media in sales and marketing and don’t see the benefits within the corporation. Finally, your emphasis on the social – the relationships – is spot on. See my book series on that very subject: http://bit.ly/OrderBeAPerson

    Thanks for the great post!

  10. September 12th, 2011 at 15:18 | #10

    Jay, you hit the proverbial nail on the head when you said, “…understanding how to BE social is the key to success , more so than worrying how to DO social.” I also concur that we need to be tool agnostics. Certainly we need to be educated and skilled at using the tools, but the emphasis still needs to be on people and the conversation. Thanks for helping keep the focus where it belongs.

  11. Mark T
    September 13th, 2011 at 08:23 | #11

    Jay, you present some intriguing opportunities to leverage int he social scene. However, when an employee leaves it is almost always the companies fault in the employees eyes. Regardless of what really happened the employee’s need to be right dominates and they usually blame the ex-employer. If employees are used to create their own networks of customers and social interactions regarding the company in their own arenas rather than from a company post; what about the fall out when that employee leaves? The ex-employee will usually blame and make wrong the company they just left. Is this a concern, how can this be mitigated?

  12. Emily Carter
    September 13th, 2011 at 10:40 | #12

    This was a great post and I definitely think that companies need to jump on the “social media bandwagon” when it comes to who posts, and when. Allowing employees to become active participants on social media sites can help your company create a viable page full of content, which is constantly changing and derives from many points of view. Current and potential customers will appreciate having a dynamic source of information from a company. At Grass Roots Marketing, we view social media as the best way to connect with users and provide valuable content to them. Tips and tricks can be found here: http://www.grmwebsite.com/social-media/

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