The rate at which online media and social business evolves might have shocked Darwin into an early grave. If it sounds overwhelming, don’t be shy. Sit down, grab a cup of coffee and delve into the speedy learning curve of social business.

Step 1: Get your business online.

The first step in social business evolution was to recognize the importance of social media engagement. While some companies are still behind in utilizing the effects of maintaining community conversations or tapping into the branding opportunities of online networks, a large number of businesses have finally acknowledged, “This is something we need to engage in to succeed.”

The evolution begins.

Yet, as more companies find the means to expand their social media exposure, the more we have come to find just how important it is for multiple layers of the company to be involved.

That’s right. The leaders in social business community no longer advise us to just, “Get online.” Social media strategists, online marketers, business developers and those who have seen the largest strides in social media engagement, now recognize the need for company members to share their voices.

Step 2: Employees, step inside the ring.  

The best advocates of your business are going to be the ones who understand it – and rely on its success.

Companies of all sizes represent the organization of multiple parts. Your finance department has different responsibilities than your social media manager, your human resources team, your CEO (even if you are a startup and this is the same person). While the CEO may be the one in charge (and social media strategist running the social networks), it is the combination of the voices that create the type of dialogue consumers of today want to hear.

We want the inside scoop. We want genuine expertise. And we want the marketing intern to be as accessible as the founder. We not only want these things; we expect them.

Take it from these guys.

If you are not yet convinced, just listen to these guys and girls. Here are the opinions of three people who understand the social business landscape better than just about anyone.

Michael Brenner, Senior Director of Integrated Marketing and Content Strategy, SAP: “The next issue that cannot be underestimated is of employee engagement. If a business does not have passionate, engaged employees, it will never reach its social business potential.” (Read more.)

Dion Hinchcliffe, Chief Strategy Officer, Dachis Group: “Although it’s now largely appreciated that community managers form the operational and strategic backbone of social media-powered business environments and processes, they are just one set of a company’s stakeholders which must be well-connected in an integral fashion in the social business.” (Read more.)

Charlene Li, Founder, Altimeter Group: “It’s one thing to have a Facebook or Twitter presence run by a small social media team in your organization. It’s a totally different ball game that truly social businesses are playing when thousands of employees are connected externally as well as internally.” (Read more.)

Employee advocates are the next generation.

The activity of employee advocates makes all the difference in social business. As we get ready to enter 2013, think about the ways that your company can maximize its social media presence. Does this involve hyperactivity of the organization? Finding the right employees to hold relevant conversations? Locating networks to share specialized expertise?

Start training your employees to interact with relevant communities and to become your brand advocates. Teach them to embrace their passions – and how to turn these passions in engaging stories.

But first, lead by example.

Note: You can start here, where employees’ articles are represented as a sum of a business’ knowledge.  Ex. exploreB2B company profile