Becoming a social business doesn’t happen overnight. Just launching a new Facebook page or Twitter account doesn’t mean that your business is “social,” either. Being a truly social business means that social media is part of your company’s culture and embedded in your corporate DNA. Both your front-line employees and top executives must be using social media as a part of every new initiative or strategy.
Back in 2013, the Altimeter Group outlined the six stages of social business maturity that would result in the final transformation of a company into a social business. That study (“The Evolution of Social Business”) was more than theoretical conjecture. In fact, it was based on survey results from nearly 700 social media professionals and executives.
What then are the six stages of maturing into a social business?
The transformation starts with a planning stage. This means:
After that important first step, a company must begin to build its social media presence on platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. This requires thinking about how to use those platforms (as well which of these platforms) strategically in order to meet core business objectives. For example, if your company prides itself on best-in-class customer service, you’d probably want to make Twitter a core component of your social strategy.
Now it is time to think about building engagement with customers, forming communities, and finding your super-fans across social media. In short, your company needs to become part of a larger social media ecosystem. You must begin to build feedback loops, in which you are constantly refining what you post on social media and how you connect with customers, fans, and partners based off the feedback you receive on your social media efforts.
Those first three steps are what most people commonly associate with becoming a social business. However, as the Altimeter Group pointed out, you’re still only halfway to becoming a truly social business. You still need to formalize the role of social media within your organization. Who is the primary “executive sponsor” of social within your organization? For some companies, it might be the CEO. For others, it might be the CMO or CTO. Obviously, if there’s buy-in from the CEO, there’s a good chance the company really can become a social business.
The next step is integrating your social media strategy into the overall strategy of the company. If your company has different departments, units, or affiliates, they all need to understand the role of social. The right reporting relationships have to be set up so data can be accessed and used to continually refine your social media strategy. C-level executives, for example, should be able see the impact of a recent social media campaign on a new product launch based on the data provided to them.
The last step is perhaps the most exciting one, as it’s when social has been so ingrained into everything that your company does that it’s possible to talk about a “social culture.” What are some signs that this is happening? Your HR department is now using social media to recruit new employees. Your marketing department has a social media component for every new splashy campaign. Your customer service department has embraced social media as a way to boost overall customer satisfaction.
At that point in time, your company has truly become a social business. It’s not just that you are implementing new social strategies, it’s also that everyone in the business has a social-first mentality.
Find out more about becoming a social business with “How to Develop a Social Media Policy for Your Business.”
As the Founder and CEO of Social Media Headquarters (HQ), Chris manages an online community of marketers, students, entrepreneurs and digital enthusiasts. One of his goals is to help others grow professionally with the help of the latest tips and trends in social and digital marketing. You can follow up on Twitter @SocialMediaHQ.