The six steps to becoming a social business
What is a ‘social business’? A company with a Facebook page? A brand with more followers than its competitors? An organisation that uses enterprise social software? Or is it something much deeper than superficial statistics and program policies?
According to a new report from the Altimeter Group, ‘The Evolution of Social Business’, there are six crucial stages which every business must master before it can truly be called ‘social’, rather than simply adopting “social for social’s sake”. As the graphic below shows, these are: Planning, Presence, Engagement, Formalized, Strategic and Converged. Let’s take a look at each.
Planning: Here businesses must learn how customers use social channels and identify which business goals can be most well-met by social. The report cites Dell as an example. In 2006 the computer giant spent nine months observing what people were writing on blogs and forums before launching its initial social media presence.
Presence: In the second stage, the business should test the water to see what works, by not only amplifying existing content but by ‘staking a claim’ on new channels and encouraging sharing.
Engagement: The third stage is often the trickiest for new businesses starting out in social, and involves using dialogue to deepen relationships, build communities and provide customer support, in order to strengthen reputation and – hopefully – drive customers to consider making a purchase.
Formalized: Here, all of a company’s efforts are organized to scale, so that a consistent branded experience is presented across all channels, and all those involved in the company’s social strategy are brought up to speed with policy, process and objectives.
Strategic: By now, the report reasons, the business will be experiencing the impacts of its social efforts and big data can be mined for “business intelligence and employed to inform the evolution”.
Converged: At the sixth and final stage, the business has become social and now operates on a day-to-day basis with a social philosophy at the heart of every aspect of the enterprise.
The overriding message of the report, as is the case with much guidance on the murky subject of ‘going social’, is that social must never be seen as an ‘add-on’, but instead made a holistic part of the business culture.
“Embracing social media does not create a social business,” says the report. “It’s simply the way you get work done, functioning much like the telephone.”