Dachis Group's Peter Kim Talks Social Business by Design


Peter Kim is the Chief Strategy Officer at Dachis Group, a leading social business advisory firm founded by Jeff Dachis. Peter was DG's first employee in 2008 and he has since then built the firm's consulting practice from the ground up. An avid blogger and widely respected industry thought leader, Peter recently co-authored the book Social Business by Design. I've personally worked with Peter's team and have admired his work and writings for many years. In this interview, Peter shares thoughts and insights about visual thinking, visual social media and the rise of social business.

"Brands must find ways to build scalable solutions to rebuild trust, before competitors steal those relationships."

Social Nerdia: What is Social Business by Design about and why did you write it?

Peter Kim: Social Business by Design is a guide to understanding the fundamentals of social business. Dion Hinchcliffe and I have decades of strategy and implementation experience between us, combined with the aggregate hundreds of years of experience of our Dachis Group colleagues. We wrote the book because we've seen the maturation of external social media and internal collaboration technologies, proven by solid business results. The book centers on ten fundamental principles of social business and we feel that beginners and experts alike can benefit from its wide range of content.

Social Nerdia: Dachis Group has focused on social business solutions since its inception. Do you see yourselves as a consultancy, agency or a hybrid, and what does this mean to your clients?

PK: Dachis Group is on track with the path originally charted four years ago: we are advisers to the world's leading brands (including Samsung) and our advisory has traditionally taken the form of services and more recently big data analytics products. Our clients benefit from expertise across the full social business spectrum: research, strategy, planning, build, implementation, operations, and measurement.

Social Nerdia: DG's XPLANE team contributed graphics to Social Business by Design. Why is visual thinking important?

PK: The company formerly known as XPLANE has been integrated into global operations as expert facilitators and visual thinkers. Using visual thinking as an integral part of our discovery and delivery allows for rapid communication and greater clarity for project teams. So when we were writing the book, Dion and I knew that including a comprehensive set of figures to complement the text would be critically important to getting our message across.

Social Nerdia: Do you think the trend towards visual social media, demonstrated by the popularity of Pinterest and Instagram, reveals hints of a shift in consumer behavior?

PK: It's great that visuals are getting lots of attention and I think that indicates better use of technology rather than fundamental shifts in mentality. Rewind back to the 1990's when we used Lynx for text-based web browsing. Mosaic revolutionized online experiences by providing image support, but there was one small issue: people needed to create them. Now fast forward back to where we are today - mobile phones feature professional-grade digital cameras, high-speed bandwidth is readily available, and services have launched specifically to harness trends in consumer behavior, namely public sharing. The social business lesson: the world has changed; make sure your mental model has shifted so your brand experiences will survive and thrive.

Social Nerdia: It seems like consumers continue to lose trust for large organizations despite brands' attempts to build trust. How can being and doing "social" change that?

PK: We're caught in a shift from traditional one-way communication to two-way engagement. The old model served companies well for decades; with the rise of the industrial revolution and mass production, companies needed ways to publicize and move large amounts of product. But don't forget that there was an earlier model in place for an earlier time: two-way engagement. Commerce happened on a very localized basis and marketing was person-to-person, word-of-mouth, and highly based on trust. But back in the 1700s, scale wasn't critical. In the 21st century, brands are facing a return to two-way engagement brought on by new technology and cultural trends. That's why understanding social business is so important - brands must find ways to build scalable solutions to rebuild trust, before competitors steal those relationships.

Social Nerdia: What does the embodyment of social business look like at companies that have traditionally been slow to embrace technology?

PK: Social business adoption follows a set of now recognizable patterns. Individuals become aware of opportunities for brands via media and personal experience. Executives are hearing about the trends from their peers and at conferences. Small pilots are started for internal collaboration and external communication, experimenting with emerging technologies and platforms. That's where momentum at most companies comes to a screeching halt: as managers learn about social business, its potential, and see early proof points for themselves, they reach a point where fundamental process and culture changes are required to proceed further.  Pace of tech adoption becomes a moot point.

Social Nerdia: What is the Social Business Index?

PK: The Social Business Index is a lens into Dachis Group's big data platform, providing multiple views into companies' social business performance and trends. We monitor over 30,000 brands and 100 million accounts to create what we call the "social business graph." We pull data from 230+ countries across social platforms including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, Tumblr, Google+, Pinterest, Renren, Twitpic, Foursquare, MySpace, as well as blogs, wikis, forums, BBS, message boards, websites, and thousands of other sources.

Social Nerdia: What advice can you give to social media professionals that want to encourage their company's adoption of social business?

PK: Make sure you understand the fundamentals, which allow you to build a solid business case. Learn about different strategies for adoption, whether B2B or B2C, regulated or not, Fortune 500 or SMB. Then start building. Social Business By Design is a guide for helping professionals succeed in that process.

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