The Social Ecosystem

Organizations of all types have struggled to come to grips with terms like Government 2.0, Social Business, Social Media, and a long list of others that are floating around book stores, universities, and blogs.

I have spent a lot of time speaking with businesses and government agencies, exploring what is working, what is failing, and seeking to understand where confusion and hype are preventing these organizations from achieving full value from their efforts. The Social Ecosystem is the result of these efforts and is meant to reduce confusion and offer guidance for organizations across the world.

Lofty goals? Perhaps, but the Social Ecosystem is not being defined in a vacuum, it will fully leverage many ideas that are already available and will evolve, as needed, as we continue to learn more.

For this post I will discuss, at a high level, the major components of the Social Ecosystem as well as some key definitions. Over time I plan to create a table of contents, a section for terms, and break this down into a book-like format. Please be patient as it will take time and we’ll all work through this together.

Key Components

  • The Social Ecosystem. The Social Ecosystem provides a structure within which all types of organizations live and interact. This ecosystem is open and inclusive of both public and private organizations and remains independent of geography and language.
  • The Social Organization. Organizations ranging from small and medium businesses to enterprises to local and federal governments (and so on) are all social organizations.
    • I will begin by looking at the key behaviors and requirements from an Ecosystem perspective.
    • As we continue we will explore the internals of the Social Organization. I will add in concepts like Social CRM, Enterprise 2.0, and Government 2.0. There will be no attempt to replace these concepts, instead, they will be included as they fit very well within this model.
    • In the long-term the Social Organization should be thought of as a standard, including various levels of compliance that address security, training, measurement, level of channel neutrality, and more.
  • The Social Unit. The smallest part of the Ecosystem includes teams and individuals. We will discuss concepts like social currency, the social value cycle (compliments of Paul Doyle, CEO of Proofspace), leadership and organizational structures.

The Social Ecosystem is channel-neutral (thanks Steve Schildwachter) and does not promote any specific tools or vendors. It will stay open and independent.

Key Definitions

These are a starting point and we will certainly add to these as we move forward.

  • Social CRM. My definition builds off of Paul Greenberg’s stake in the ground.
    • “Social CRM is a philosophy & a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, processes & social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation to give mutually beneficial value in a trusted & transparent business environment. It’s the company’s response to the customer’s joint ownership of the conversation”
  • Enterprise 2.0. For this work I will use Andrew McAfee’s definition from May of 2006.
    • “Enterprise 2.0 is the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers.”
  • Government 2.0. My chosen definition comes from the Australian Government 2.0 Google Group.
    • “Government 2.0 is not specifically about social networking or technology based approaches to anything. It represents a fundamental shift in the implementation of government – toward an open, collaborative, cooperative arrangement where there is (wherever possible) open consultation, open data, shared knowledge, mutual acknowledgment of expertise, mutual respect for shared values and an understanding of how to agree to disagree. Technology and social tools are an important part of this change but are essentially an enabler in this process.”
  • Social Media. The definition I will use is the one given by Brian Solis.
    • “Social Media is the democratization of information, transforming people from content readers into publishers. It is the shift from a broadcast mechanism, one-to-many, to a many-to-many model, rooted in conversations between authors, people, and peers.”

That’s all for today, let me know what you think.


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Christopher Parente

Interesting set up. Of course social ecosystems and organizations have been around forever. Looking forward to reading how you see 2.0 (however defined) changes them.

Ed Downey

The Government 2.0 definition is a good one. I just finished a book on government web sites and that led to some web 2.0 research questions regarding civic engagement and the relationships between citizens and all levels of government:
1. How has Web 2.0 changed relationships?
2. What are the affects of the changes in relationships caused by Web 2.0?
3. Have Web 2.0 effects been beneficial?

If you are interested in contributing to a book that looks at these questions please see the call for chapters at: