Studying the impact of innovation on business and society

Time to Grow Up! Social businesses mature, yet many still lack a strategic foundation [infographic]


This year has been particularly busy yet productive for Charlene Li and me having published two reports that detail the six stages of social business evolution and the true state of social business in 2013, an ebook on how successful social businesses are evolving, and an image-rich slide deck complete with all the graphs and charts you need to benchmark where you are compared to other social businesses.

Now Charlene and I are proud to introduce our latest infographic that summarizes high level findings across all of our work in 2013.

The number one thing we learned this year is that no matter how much we celebrate the case studies and best practices of the most social brands, they are far from perfect. You can replicate campaigns but you can’t replicate how the efforts of others cultivate ideal experiences and relationships with your customers…in a meaningful way.

This infographic tells a story. But it is how you use the data in this infographic that helps you tell your story your way. You’re either paving the way for the future of your business, you’re struggling to make the case to do what you know is right, or you’re not sure where to begin or how to get buy-in. As much as we talk about social business and social media, the truth is that change is an individual story. While there are patterns for change, transformation always comes down to a change agent and the team she or he assembles to pave the way. The question is, what role do you want to play in all of this?

The future is unwritten…and, it’s yours to write.

Highlights from the State of Social Business Infographic

Companies are organizing and formalizing social media strategies into social business strategies…

78% of companies have a dedicated social media team. This is up from 67% two years ago.

Social media teams have grown from 11 people in 2010 to almost 16 in 2013.

Social business strategies are spreading across the enterprise…

According to our research, there are 13 different departments across the enterprise with at least one person dedicated to social media.

The majority of resources are allocated to marketing at 73%, but as you can see, social media covers almost every major function. Now, whether or not social media is organized and integrated, well, we know that it’s not really.

Marketing = 73%
Corporate communications = 66%
Customer support = 40%
Digital = 37%
Social media = 35%
HR = 29%
Product/R&D = 16%
Advertising = 16%
Customer/User experience = 15%
IT = 14%
Legal = 9%

Social media headcount across the enterprise has more than doubled at the largest companies from 20 in 2010 to 49 in 2012.

Companies are tying social business to positive business outcomes…

About 50% of companies say social business has improved marketing optimization, customer experience and brand health.

Nearly one in four have actually seen an increase in revenue.

Companies though have a long way to go…

Many social business programs lack a strong foundation.

Only 17% of companies identify their social strategy as mature.

52% of companies say that executives are aligned with the overall social strategy.

Just 26% of companies approach social media holistically (operating against a cross-enterprise level strategy.)

To succeed, build a foundation for social business…

1) Benchmark you program with Altimeter’s Social Business reports (see below…underneath the infographic).

2) Document existing challenges and opportunities to address in 2014 and 2015 (we don’t move as fast as we’d like).

3) Align all social business efforts with business objectives and priorities.

Additional Altimeter Group Resources

The Evolution of Social Business: Six Stages of Social Media Transformation

In Depth Report

The State of Social Business 2013


The Maturing of Social Media into Social Business

Slides with charts and graph

The Seven Success Factors of Social Business Strategy


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58 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Time to Grow Up! Social businesses mature, yet many still lack a strategic foundation [infographic]”

  1. Only 8% in Market Research? That is poor…
    I still cannot believe that this is happening in 2013, even though the most executives I am talking to still believe that they know their market, audience, competitors, etc.
    I remember one of your phrases, Brian, how most business execute: Load, Shoot, Aim!

    • briansolis says:

      Indeed it is. It has a lot to do with how the industry celebrates success. It’s more than marketing. Engagement requires research and empathy. We must think beyond, “Ready. Fire. Aim!”

    • AmethystMahoney says:

      It’s not poor, it’s lack of education. When you look at the small business industry as a whole, you have to take into account the huge increase in metaphysical and holistic practitioners who are transitioning from hobby to business. This is the industry I work with, and it is a long road to educating spiritual people about business. We are all doing the best we can.

  2. PamMktgNut says:

    I agree with you on the fact many biz’s lack the solid foundation. Even large and smart orgs with smart teams committed to working the social side and integration into biz, who claim they are one of the most “social businesses” have a hard time answering the question “where are you aligning to business goals and what are the results.” Many will answer in terms such as “engagement’ or an “influencer program.” We must continue to question them, an influencer program to do what, to achieve what biz outcome?

    I believe 2014 will hopefully be the year that the rubber meets the road, that biz leaders will have the guts to have the real discussions to assess what real results their efforts are driving, how can they better align etc.

    There is no cookie cutter strategies and biz leaders need to quit looking for it. It’s exactly as you say “As much as we talk about social business and social media, the truth is that change is an individual story. While there are patterns for change, transformation always comes down to a change agent and the team she or he assembles to pave the way.” Good and truthful words Brian.

  3. Michael Bian says:

    Thank you this is the most useful infographic.

  4. AmethystMahoney says:

    Does anyone else see the irony that this post has no Pinterest button? 😛

  5. Ankit Sapra says:

    nice airticle

  6. Marc Meyer says:

    Hey Brian should this be “tying?” Companies are trying social business to positive business
    outcomes. If not, i might be confused… 🙂

  7. sr274 says:

    Fantastic article! Organisations need to think of leadership level action focus team to deliver solutions/response to UGC grievances/critics.

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