Why social business matters in 2015 and beyond

It’s been more than a decade since social media began challenging businesses to respond to what has been a dramatic shift in how we now connect, communicate and express ourselves globally today.

Organisations are working hard to respond to integration challenges by evolving their structures, budgets and most importantly, focusing less on scaling social, but rather making it an integral part of business.

Altimeter Group This is according to Altimeter Group who have just published this year’s “State of Social Business” research report. It’s a cracking read and I recommend taking a look.

(New to the term social business? See my previous articles below for context, definitions and resources to help you).

Altimeter Group define it as:

The deep integration of social media and social methodologies into the organisation to drive business impact.

Analyst Ed Terpening @EdTerpening, says: “Strategists today are focused on digital and content strategy integration, proving value (especially in the face of increasing “pay to play” social advertising pressures), looking inward to the application of social to reach new levels of employee engagement, and leveraging employees for advocacy to build brand health.

“We hope the insights and recommendations in this report give you the perspective needed to address these emerging challenges.”

What’s in it?
If you’re looking for stats and advice to help you think through social business, you’re in luck. It’s particularly pertinent if you’re studying or wish to understand the current state of social media, especially viewed in the context of business use.

The report looks at how the evolution of social media is a story of trial-and-error, mishap and success.

There are many challenges ahead, and this report is a guide to help you prepare and be aware of expected trends. The analysis is based on interviews with thought leaders, brands, technology vendors and a survey of 113 strategists (social, digital and/or heads of social) at companies with more than 250 employees.

It includes info like…

What do I think?
The following points stand out for me. It feels like this list could have been written a couple of years ago – it seems companies are still grappling with the same issues:

  • Integration of social with digital suffers from the lack of cohesive strategy.
  • Breaking down silos requires engaged leaders.
  • Employee-focused initiatives need HR partners.
  • Digital content and social advertising are growth areas to align.

The report also looks at the rise of social advertising and how it puts pressure on the traditional paid, owned, earned media model. This is reflected in their finding that 55% of respondents named developing an integrated digital content strategy as a top social business priority for 2015.

This topic isn’t going anywhere, it’s here to stay and this report highlights why social business matters in 2015 and beyond. Essentially it’s part of the way companies do business. Want to read more? My recent article about the BBC looks at this mindset.

I thought the evolution of models in the report was particularly interesting, with centralised being replaced by hub & spoke for social teams – it was 33% in 2012 and is 56% today.


How can you learn more about social business?
I’ve written numerous times about social business over the years including:

Key findings in The 2015 State of Social Business by Altimeter Group:

• 82% of businesses report they are either fully integrated, in the process of, or planning the integration of social with digital in 2015. But only 36% believe they have in place a multi-year digital strategy that includes social initiatives.

• Across all organisations, only 27% reported that executives at the VP/Director level were active on social, with a measly 9% reporting participation from the C-Suite.

• Interest in employee advocacy has grown 191% since 2013, with 45% of respondents naming it a top external objective.

• 38% of responding organisations plan to spend more than 20% of their total advertising budgets on social media channels in 2015, up from 13% a year ago.

• 55% of respondents named developing an integrated digital content strategy as a top social business priority for 2015.

Shift in perceptions
Altimeter Group has highlighted the shift they’ve seen from social media being viewed as a bright shiny object and external facing (I call this comms bling) and is making companies look inward.

They say the role of strategists is to partner with leaders to help social business cross silos, support a broader digital vision and achieve new levels of employee engagement and advocacy.

I agree with this, the conversations I have with clients, readers and people in my network reflects this shift – moving away from purely nuts and bolts and scaling, to understanding governance and the role of leaders to communicate a social business vision that goes beyond Marketing and Communications.

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Additional highlights:



What do you think of what you’ve read so far? Feel free to comment below or Tweet me @AllthingsIC.

Read it for yourself

You can follow the conversations about the report online via the hashtag #2015AltimeterSocial.

Read the whole report. (Free download).

Want a taster? The first five pages of the report are online via SlideShare and below:

Post author: Rachel Miller

First published on All Things IC blog 5 August 2015.

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