Did you know that only 17% of companies are considered to be “truly strategic” in their execution of social media strategies? Or that more companies are committing more employees to social media efforts? What about the fact that 100,000+ employee enterprises more than doubled the number of employees from 20 to 49 in their dedicated social media teams? Tracking the impact of social efforts is on the rise as well, with over half of companies measuring and adjusting strategy regularly.
All of this is revealed in a report released by Altimeter called, “The State of Social Business 2013: The Maturing of Social Media in Social Business.” This report defines a social business as “the deep integration of social media and social methodologies into the organization to drive business impact” and outlines 6 stages that companies progress through as they mature in social.
Those stages include: planning a strategy, establishing a strong presence on social, full engagement in social relationships customers, formalized strategy across multiple departments and business units, becoming a true social business through strategic integration of social methodologies and technologies, and finally converging into a fully social business where social media is woven into the fabric of the organization. At the moment, only 3% of businesses surveyed fall into the final “converged” stage with most sitting pretty in the middle: 26% at “engagement” and 26% at “formalized.” What’s disturbing is the fact that only 52% of executives are aware of the importance of having a social media strategy and are actively engaged in the process.
No matter what stage a company is in, social media use is spreading to departments other than in just marketing and communications. Now, at least 13 different business units across the enterprise may deploy social media including Customer Support, Digital, HR, and R&D. Getting social online is no longer just about setting up social media accounts. Companies are now on the move “from liking to leading,” when they realize how the technologies that drive social media also “drive real business value.” So in case you haven’t noticed, 2013 is the year for companies to leverage social media to make the final transition into social business.
Building Your Social Business
It’s no longer a question of whether companies are using social media, but rather a question of whether or not they’re using it correctly. Correct use can be ensured through the implementation of an effective social business strategy, which helps avoid “social anarchy” and fragmented use of social media in the organization.
Here are some guidelines you can use to create and implement an effective social business strategy:
1. Communicate your business goals. Make it abundantly clear to your employees what you’d like to achieve by utilizing social media. Focus and direction comes from the top of an organization, so make sure you’re defining the right path for your team.
2. The best social businesses (the ones that fall into the “converged” state described above) are those with people at all levels of a company engaged on social. From CEOs to customer support, everyone who wants to be involved should be allowed to do so. It is in your company’s best interest to encourage employee engagement on social.
3. Use social to explore what your employees are capable of. According to IBM, social analytics make it possible to identify what motivates your top performers, so you can apply that information to the rest of your team and get the best results out of everyone.
4. Identify how you will achieve your goals. It’s great to have clear objectives but you need to develop a plan for how you will get there. No step is too small to include. Yes, even “create company Twitter accounts,” can count as a part of the plan.
5. Develop a social media policy that outlines specifically what is expected of your employees. Figure out what’s allowed and what’s off-limits. Also use it to determine who, how, and when customer questions and comments will be responded to.
6. Allot for the appropriate resources to handle all things social for your company. As your company grows into a social business, you will need to ensure social media is accounted for in terms of staffing and funding, according to the Altimeter report.
7. Foster employee engagement. According to the Corporate Leadership Council, employees who describe themselves as “highly engaged,” are 87% less likely to leave a company than their disengaged counterparts. This means not only encouraging activity on social but rewarding and incentivizing it.
8. Play up your employees’ strengths. Now is not the time to stick to the same old, same old. Rather, you can utilize the individual strengths of your employees to think of creative new ways to interact with customers and differentiate your brand.
9. Build real, lasting relationships with customers. Social businesses aren’t just tweeting at customers. They’re tweeting with them. By building relationships on social, you create dedicated and loyal advocates who will support your brand on your behalf.
Social media has changed the landscape of business forever. Being an industry leader in the 21st century means adapting to the new technologies that make up the social business landscape. To be a “truly strategic” business, your company has to utilize social media as a business tool and implement an effective social business strategy that will educate and leverage your employee advocates. By doing so, you will ensure that your company is on the path to social success and will continue to evolve to become a truly social business.