Social media is extending deeper into organisations and, at the same time, strategies are maturing. Companies can’t scale social media across the enterprise with a core team alone. Organisations are increasingly having dedicated employees working on social initiatives, with up to 13 different departments involved.

These conclusions form part of the findings in The State of Social Business 2013: The Maturing of Social Media into Social Business survey, which has been released today by Brian Solis and Charlene Li at Altimeter Group. This is the next stage in their work to learn how social media is evolving within companies and includes analysis from results between 2010-2013 surveys.

It reveals how businesses are expanding social efforts and investments and states: “What was previously a series of initiatives driven by marketing and PR is now evolving into a social business movement that looks to scale and integrate social across organisations.

“As social approaches its first decade of enterprise integration, we still see experimentation in models and approach. There is no one way to become a social business. Instead, social businesses evolve through a series of stages that ultimately align social media strategies with business goals.”

Regular readers of my blog will know I’ve written about social business a number of times, I’ve included information at the end of this article as further reading, so you can refresh your memory or read it for the first time.

What did the latest survey find?

  • In terms of social business maturity, most organisations are “intermediate,” with only 17% who are truly strategic in the executive of their social strategies.
  • The lack of clear leadership, organisation and strategy means that many organisations experience some form of “social anarchy,” of sliced, uncoordinated social efforts.
  • More companies are moving to the Multiple Hub and Spoke model to organise their social business programmes, up from 18% in 2010 using this model to 23.6% in 2013.
  • Most dedicated social media teams continue to report to Marketing (40%) or Corporate Communications/PR (26%). But now, 13 different departments around the organisation are seeing dedicated staff work on social initiatives.
  • Companies are committing more headcount to social media across all sizes of companies. The biggest jump is for companies with more than 100,000 employees, which now report an average of 49 full-time employees (FTEs) supporting social media in the organisation, compared to 20 in 2010.

wordsWhat are the top priorities for social?

  • Top priorities include scaling for engagement, integrating data and training/education around social.
  • Measuring the impact of social is maturing, with over half of companies surveyed able to track the impact of social on marketing efforts.

2013 viewed as the year where social scales and integrates

I found it interesting to read through the answers to the question “What are your top internal social media objectives?”

The report states: “While priorities such as metrics and training remain top priorities, new initiatives are getting attention, such as scaling social programmes, making sense of social data, and integrating with digital and mobile efforts. This is supported by related objectives to develop internal education and training, up to 43%, and connect employees with social tools, at 23%.

“Companies can’t scale social media across the enterprise with a core team alone. As businesses move toward Formalised, Strategic and Converged stages, strategists learn that housing social in one group hinders growth, scale and internal distribution, leaving strategy development and execution in either the core or among external agencies. To truly scale social throughout the enterprise takes empowerment where it becomes a new instrument to achieve business goals.”

The emphasis on hinders is my own. I found it interesting to read that lack of employee training around social media policies remains “a significant risk area” – only 18% of companies said that their employees have a good or very good understanding of their social media policies.

If you’re looking to develop your own, I’ve collated a list of 300+ policies so you can see what other companies are doing.

Involving others
The shift to more departments being responsible or involved in social efforts, beyond the Comms or Marketing team, is on the rise according to the survey. What’s your experience of this? Who is responsible in your business?

Scalability appears key and it appears consistently throughout the report. How does it tally with your experience? Do you have pockets of success in your organisation? Are you trying to find ways to maximise and scale your social efforts?

What are your thoughts on what I’ve highlighted from this and the rest of Brian and Charlene’s report? You can comment below or tweet me @AllthingsIC

In summary
The final part of the report resonates with me and I think it will have the most relevance for readers of my blog. It states:

“The evolution of social business is constant. While models, budgets and investments will shift over time, the biggest impact of social media will be in the social contract companies establish with customers and employees. Doing so will allow companies to think through the investment and the expected return for employees and customers so they can introduce and grow mutually beneficial and productive social programmes.

“As a function of social business evolution, social becomes part of the DNA and culture in organisational transformation. Everything begins with the articulation of a vision for how social media impacts customer and employee relationships and experiences. From there, businesses can track investments in models, processes, policies, collaboration, workflow and technology to effectively scale social throughout the organisation while aligning with a new or renewed vision and business goals.”

The notion of a social contract is becoming increasingly talked and written about, particularly when it comes to employees and outlining expectations and boundaries so everyone knows what to expect and how to behave.

So what’s next?
According to Solis and Li, in the next two years they expect social to “become part of a bigger movement where social joins web, mobile and other digital initiatives to lead an integrated and orchestrated transformation. Social becomes just one part of the overall approach to successfully engage, learn from, and lead connected customers and employees. But it is the evolution into a Social Business where stakeholders learn what it takes to adapt existing models, processes and methodologies as part of an overall change management initiative.

It sounds like a bright future, I’d love to see the results if this survey is repeated in a year’s time, to see how and if further changes are being made to evolve organisations along the social business path.

Here is the full report into The State of Social Business 2013: The Maturing of Social Media into Social Business:

Further reading:

Social business
I’ve written about social business a number of times, you can read my overview of the history and definitions and also access a free book on social business, Attenzi, by Philip Sheldrake.

This is my definition: Social business creates an environment of connected conversations; empowering and equipping everyone it impacts (internally and externally) to drive personal and organisational success.

Brian Solis
I met Brian Solis in July when he came to London and spoke about the future of business. You can find him on Twitter @BrianSolis and Charlene is @CharleneLi.

Social media research
Last month I published the results of a survey I conducted with simply-communicate and presented the findings at Social Media Inside the Large Enterprise (SMILE) at the start of Social Media Week. The information and a free download of the results is available.

Training
On 20 November, Belinda Gannaway of NixonMcInnes is leading a Melcrum workshop on social business in London called Social Business: Leading your organisation into the conversational age. Full info here.

Post author: Rachel Miller

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