Fast Chat: Jeffrey Dachis

Razorfish, Dachis Group founder on acquisitions, his new Social Business Index, and being the life of the party

Adweek: Dachis Group now has more than 250 employees in five countries. A lot of that has been built up with acquisitions. You’ve bought everything from a social consultancy to a Facebook developer. What’s the theme of your buying spree?

Jeffrey Dachis: The end goal is to have a scale-advantaged global and diverse offering. If you think about those three things, clients that have big problems need companies that have resources. Scale is one component. Global is another facet. Large companies that operate in the global economy have opportunities all around the world and want to connect and engage in all the markets they’re in. So that’s a driver. I often talk about recruiting and retaining talent. It’s both easier and faster to acquire talent versus having to hire and build organically. We’ve grown dramatically as an organization both organically and through acquisition. Our acquisitive growth is more substantial than our organic growth.

Most people in the industry say it’ll be measurement and scale that bring TV dollars to digital. Dachis Group is very much focused on social. How does that play into the debate? I've talked about scale. But when we talk about social business, we mean a socially oriented business. The terms may not be eloquent or as clearly articulated at this point in time because no one’s seen a company that’s connected and engaged. Companies try to market their way out of problems when they’re not really connecting with customers. It’s strange for marketers who are used to trying to come up with the big idea and pump that idea through a bunch of channels. You have these engagement methods, and so the technology for the first time allows us to engage. And you can measure it.

Which means… 

It’s difficult to measure engagement with a magazine ad or commercial. With social, when you click that "like" button, you’re telling somebody that you liked that thing. When you become a fan of that thing, or become an active participant on the wall of that thing, and lastly if you become an advocate of that brand, I can measure all aspects of that. The level of social is 100 percent new, but it's 100 percent measurable.

So what does that mean for brands?

It’s a shift from brand marketing to performance brand marketing. Social and social businesses are going to create an environment where brand marketers can find measurable engagement in social and digital, and that’s what is so exciting. I’m super, super excited about that. The measurability from the “like” to the fan, to the community member, to the brand advocate is a new, exciting thing that can turn brand marketers into performance brand marketers.

And is that where your new Social Business Index (launched last week) comes in?

Well, it is one lens on an enormous sum of data that we’re collecting, analyzing processing and putting into different forms. This is the first one of its kind.

My understanding is that it ranks companies and brands by how social they are.

Yes, but that’s a simplistic view of it. It’s complex. We are looking at a variety of different components around engagement of companies, their subsidiaries, their brands, and the geographies they operate in. We look at how engaged a company’s customers, employees, partners, influencers, and the marketplace are, and how they interact in real time. We’re measuring strength, qualities, sentiment to look at how social a company is.

So it’s more like, "Are you wallpaper or the life of the party?"

Yes. We want to show you how lively you are at the party.

Which company is the most social?

I can’t tell you. We’re in private testing mode now. Gradually as we harden the data, we’ll open it up to more users. We have more than 2,700 companies in the index and more than 20,000 brands. We’re collecting the data regardless, so no one has to sign up. But we have 10 to 12 companies that are working directly with us now, providing more in-depth data, and we’re moving to several 100 in the next month.

Dachis Group, based in Austin, Texas, raised $30 million in venture backing in January from Austin Ventures. Founded in 2008, the firm has acquired seven companies since including Stuzo, Archrival, and Powered.


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