Companies still not strategic around social media strategy: Report

New Altimeter Group report on the State of Social Business finds only half of senior executives are informed, engaged or aligned with social strategy

Most organisations are at an ‘intermediate’ stage when it comes to social business maturity, and less than one-fifth can boast of being truly strategic in executing social strategy, a new report claims.

According to Altimeter Group’s The State of Social Business: 2013: The Maturing of Social Media into Social Business, the lack of clear leadership, organisation and strategy means many organisations are still experiencing ‘social anarchy’ when social media strategy is siloed or uncoordinated.

Just over one-quarter of respondents were found to have a holistic social media approach, and nearly half claimed top executives are not informed, engaged or aligned with social strategy (48 per cent).

Altimeter’s formula for understanding an organisation’s social media prowess is divided into six stages: Planning, Presence, Engagement, Formalised, Strategic, and Converged. Currently, 80 per cent of respondents claim to at least have a presence in social, but only 17 per cent consider themselves to be at the higher end of social business maturity. Only 3 per cent claimed to be at the ‘Converged’ stage, while the majority are either at Engagement or Formalised (26 per cent of respondents each).

The research group claims these steps are a good way for organisations to measure and track their strategic social media progress.

Employees also continue to lack sufficient training, with the result that social media policies remain a significant risk area, the report authors stated. The latest report found just 18 per cent of companies have employees with a good or very good understanding of social media policies, and 39 per cent are offering ad-hoc education around social media training. Twenty-two per cent don’t have any training.

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Across respondents, three-quarters reported having a dedicated social media team, with 40 per cent reporting to marketing, followed by corporate communications/PR (26 per cent). The report noted there are 13 different departments around the organisation with staff working on social initiatives, adding further weight to the relative immaturity of social media strategy.

In an indication of how important social is becoming, however, Altimeter found more organisations are committed to increasing social media headcount across the organisation, with the biggest jump not surprisingly being in companies with more than 100,000 employees. In these organisations, an average of 49 full-time employees support social media, compared with 20 in 2010.

In organisations with fewer than 5000 employees, the average number of staff dedicated to supporting social media is 3.1.

In addition, 61 per cent said social strategy is connected to business goals and outcomes, and 52 per cent claim to have articulated a long-term vision for how social media will improve customer relationships.

Another notable result is that 34 per cent of respondents have clear metrics being used throughout the organisation that associate social activities to business outcomes.

Topping the list of social priorities are engagement, integrating data and training/education. When it comes to the top three external social media objectives, content marketing leads the list (57 per cent of responses), followed by sustaining an ongoing dialogue and engagement with customers (50 per cent) and listening/learning from customers (41 per cent).

Altimeter Group’s latest report combines surveys of between 65-144 companies in the US with at least 500 employees from both Q4, 2012 and Q3, 2013.

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