Moving Beyond Marketing

This year’s MIT Sloan Management Review found clear evidence that companies across industries are creating value with social business. A key finding is that social business value is a function of what we call social business maturity — the breadth and sophistication of initiatives and strategies. Below you may find some highlights of the complete paper that you can download here:

Social Business Grows Deep Roots

Social business is perceived as important both today and in the future. After a huge growth from 52% in 2011 to 74% in 2012, 73% of this year’s survey answerers say that social business is important or somewhat important today. Nearly 90% see its importance on a three-year horizon.

Measurement sophistication is starting to prove its value. In previous surveys, “do not measure” was the most common response to questions about social business measurement. While more than half of the least socially mature companies in this year’s survey don’t measure their efforts, more than 90% of maturing companies actively do. These organizations are using a wide range of tools, such as operational and financial metrics to connect social initiatives to business outcomes. They also found out that a surprising common ground among all companies, including the most socially mature, anecdotal evidence plays a major role in demonstrating the value of social business.

Social business is not just a B2C phenomenon. In the two most recent annual surveys, they found out that social business is important, almost to the same degree, to both, B2C (business-to-consumer) and B2B (business-to-business) answerers. The impact of social business in these sectors is also comparable: nearly 60% of B2B companies agree or strongly agree that social business initiatives are positively impacting business outcomes. Among B2C organizations, the percentage is 68%.

Employees want to work for companies that excel at social business. 57% of answerers say that social business sophistication is at least somewhat important in their choice of employer. That attitude is consistent among people who is between 22 and 52 years old.

Social Business Maturity Translates Into Value

Social business maturity is related to the level of results the companies achieve. The answerers rate their companies on a social business maturity scale, the higher the number the more likely they are to report that social business creates real value.

Companies can advance toward social business maturity by focusing on its three primary drivers:

Social business helps decision making: Maturing social businesses are not simply “doing social.” Nearly 80% of them analyze social data and 67% integrate it into systems and process them to improve business decisions and capitalyze social business endeavors.

Leaders must integrate the belief that social can fundamentally change the business to their vision. More than 90% of respondents from maturing social business companies say their leaders believe it can create powerful and positive changes.

Social business must move beyond marketing to fulfill that vision. Maturing companies are including social business into multiple different areas across the enterprise to obtain diverse benefits:

- 87% use it to spur innovation.
- 83% turn to social to improve leadership performance and manage talent.
- 60% integrate social business into operations.

The idea is to infuse and integrate social tools into everything the organization does. What is Social Business?

We define “social business” broadly to include activities that use social media, social software and technology-based social networks to enable connections between people, information and assets. These activities could be internally focused within the enterprise or externally focused toward customers, suppliers and partners. Examples include:

-Social media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter.
-Social software: Instant messaging, wikis, blogs, enterprise collaboration platforms.
-Technology-based social networks: employee and community forums.

We call the value that companies derive from these activities social business value.

Namely, that social business value stems from what we call social business maturity — the sophistication of social business initiatives. That maturity is driven by three interrelated actions:

1. Using social data as the basis of business decisions.

2. Having leaders committing to social business as a means to change how the organization operates.

3. Moving social media beyond marketing to create a holistic social business.