While 61% of large companies (with more than 1,000 employees) agree that their social strategy is connected to business goals and outcomes, just 34% say there are clear metrics used throughout the organization that associate social activities with business outcomes, finds Altimeter Group [pdf] in a new research study. The research was limited to large companies currently with social media initiatives in place, 36% of whom began their programs within the past 2 years, suggesting that the market is still growing.
The study findings suggest that many of these socially active organizations have limited strategies in place. Only 52% “somewhat” or “strongly” agreed that their social strategy includes a detailed roadmap for what it will do – and also not do – over the next 1+ years. Even fewer (48%) agreed that a long-term vision for how social media will improve customer relationships has been articulated. Another cause for concern: only about half of the respondents said that top executives are informed, engaged, and aligned with their social strategy.
The report argues that while companies may be at different stages of social media strategy evolution, they can still maximize each stage of maturity, but only if they align and integrate their efforts against a set of clear business objectives. A survey last year by the MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte similarly found that when adopting social software, having a clear strategy in place is critical.
Altimeter’s definition of a social media strategy is: “The set of visions, goals, plans, and resources that align social media initiatives with business objectives.” The researchers believe that companies undergo 6 discrete phases of evolution to arrive at a social business strategy: planning (“listen & learn”); presence (“stake our claim”); engagement (“dialog deepens relationships”); formalized (“organize for scale”); strategic (“become a social business”); and converged (“business is social”).
About the Data: Altimeter Group conducted both qualitative and quantitative analyses, using a combination of online survey, interviews, and briefings, on the ways large organizations create and evolve their social business strategies. Specifically, Altimeter conducted:
- Interviews with 26 executives and social strategists at 15 companies about the development and success of their social strategies.
- Quantitative study of 698 executives and social strategists about their social media efforts. Of these respondents, 130 were at companies with more than 1,000 employees.
The survey was conducted online during Q4 2012 by Altimeter Group.