So much of what drives social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook basically comes down to social gestures by people who want to connect with others, or add value to something bigger than themselves. From product reviews to wiki edits, millions of people are benefitting from this mass of small social gestures online.
It's interesting for businesses to note that massively complex systems and information empires can be driven by something other than money. Very few social media sites pay people to participate. People use online platforms to build relationships and contribute to communities. Essentially this is a new form of economic production beyond the two classic pillars of economics, the firm and the market. Yochai Benkler calls it "Peer Production".
I’ve noticed that my social gestures over the years - blogging, chatting, uploading, editing - have accumulated into a kind of Social Equity. The result is more exposure, higher trust, more business, and ultimately financial reward.
Thus each social gesture becomes an investment.
Many businesses are already benefitting from the social equity of their employees. I think it’s important for businesses to recognize these people within their ranks and enable them to continue rather than shutting them down.