San Mateo-based research and advisory firm, The Altimeter Group, conducts an annual social business survey of social media strategists and executives at the world's most socially engaged companies (with more than 1,000 employees) to ascertain how social media is evolving within enterprise organizations. This year's The State of Social Business 2013: The Maturing of Social Media into Social Business is a fascinating report (in the form of a SlideShare deck) of the data collected from 2010 through the third quarter of 2013.
Altimiter's analysis of survey results reveals that businesses are extending social efforts and investments. More and more businesses are working to mature social media strategies and integrate social more deeply into their core activities. It's really exciting to see companies expanding their social media teams at such a prolific rate. The biggest jump in social media headcount has been seen in companies with more than 100,000 employees, now reporting an average of 49 full-time employees (up from 20 in 2010) dedicated to social initiatives
I absolutely LOVE seeing more companies finally begin to extend social staff, beyond Marketing and PR, into additional departments! Granted, most companies' dedicated social media teams are still reporting to Marketing (40%) or Corporate Communications/PR (26%) departments. But at least now social initiatives are being addressed in as many as 13 departments within organizations. The way I see it, everybody has to start somewhere, so at least organizations seem to be headed in the right direction... with that aspect of social, anyway.
Unfortunately, there's still a pretty huge gap between businesses that merely execute social strategies and those that can truly be considered a “social business” – a business that has not only aligned their social and business goals, but intrinsically woven social media and social methodologies into the very fabric of their organization.
The report indicates only 17 percent of companies are truly strategic in the execution of social media programs, with the majority of our current enterprise ecosystem still being at an "intermediate" level of social business maturity. But get this, only 18 percent of companies believe their employees have a "good" or "very good" understand of the companies' social media policies. That's not very good, IMO.
Altimeter attributes this to the prevalence of "social (media) anarchy" across organizations. They use this term to describe the siloed, uncoordinated social efforts being perpetuated by companies, due to a lack of clear vision, leadership, organization and cohesive strategy. Guess it goes to show the ongoing importance of employee development programs that facilitate company-wide training and education.
As social approaches its first decade of enterprise integration, we still see experimentation in models and approaches. According to Altimeter, the "Multiple Hub and Spoke" model is gaining popularity as a technique for organizing social business programs. Yet, there is no one right (or specific) way to become a social business. Social businesses continue to evolve in stages, ultimately leading to the integration of social media strategies with corporate business goals.
On the whole, social media spending has remained more or less the same over the last year, with only the number of companies spending less than $100,000 dropping considerably. The main internal priority for most organizations also remained consistent with 2012 findings: 48 percent still say establishing procedures to measure the marketing effectiveness of social media efforts is one of their top objectives (over half already have procedures in place).
There have, however, been a few major shifts in top social priorities, with more companies pushing to integrate data and scale for engagement, particularly in regards to digital and mobile strategies. But the most remarkable shift has been the significant upsurge in content marketing efforts. Content marketing was listed as the top priority for social media efforts (57%), followed by customer engagement (50%) and social listening (41%). Previous priorities like social commerce (9%) and website integration (25%) have fallen drastically, further demonstrating the movement from channel-focused social media efforts to new forms of engagement on native social platforms.
To clarify the significance of content marketing's swift rise to the top, content didn't even make the list in Altimeter's 2010 survey. The dramatic rise of content marketing indicates it will play a vital role in social business strategy for years to come.
1. Benchmark your organization's position in the social business movement – in relation to the various business stages shared in this report.
2. Document the challenges and opportunities you need to address in order to move forward with a strategically powerful 2014 Social Business Plan.
3. Resist "social anarchy." Determine how you can lead your organization with a clear social vision to better align your social media strategies and methodologies with your business objectives and priorities in order to systematically scale and thoroughly integrate social across your entire organization.
4. If you haven't already checked it out, Altimeter Group’s Seven Success Factors of Social Business Strategy is another extremely useful tool for anyone looking to expedite their transition from haphazardly "executing social media" to actually maturing into a bonafide social business.
5. And finally, if you want your own copy of The State of Social Business 2013, you can downlad it straight from Altimeter Group’s SlideShare account. Because they are totally awesome, and because they fully intend to advance the social business movement, the company is offering their research results and findings free of charge. So check it out here and see what a great resource it is; then download it there and share it with your friends to help the world become a better, more social place!