Highlights from the 2014 Social Business Benchmark Study


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Another summer brings a new set of Social Business Benchmark study results! For the past three years, in partnership with the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR), we at Leader Networks, conduct an ongoing study on the impact social practices are having on organizations. Unlike the other studies that focus mainly on social media marketing, we examine the social footprint across  four important areas: Strategic intentions, operations, staffing, governance and organizational impact.

This ongoing study has yielded responses from over 190 organizations, with 17 industries represented. Company size ranges from less than 100 employees to giants with more than 50,000. Fifty three percent of the study participants were firms who focus on business-to-business (B2B) products and services, and 48% from consumer focused organizations. One of the most exciting aspects of this study is the strong cross-functional participation from organizations as we encourage broad participation to ensure that their responses reflect the organization in whole and not just the voice of a single person or line of business. It is not uncommon to have four or five leaders from a single organization take the survey which offers an especially rich perspective.

Now, on to the study results….

We start with the Leader Networks Social Business Performance Scale (see below) which was created at the onset of this study, informed by  25 interviews with social business leaders.

Social Business Performance Scale

Using the research findings in aggregate, we then map the responses using a weighted scale to benchmark where the responding organizations fell on the spectrum of social business performance. This mapping serves as a snapshot of where organizations fall across the social business performance scale.  As you can see, there is strong concentration around the Present and Enabled stage. The net/net is that progress is being made, but there is still a ways to go before the impact social business can have upon an organization is fully realized.

Social Business Performance Study Results

In addition to developing the benchmark, we also examine the data points to find key points and bell-weather trends. Here are the highlights:

The lines between social media and social business are blurred. More than 50% of organizations do not differentiate social media marketing from social business. To help respondents think about the differences, we shared a definition of the activities adapted from a Deloitte’s study: The Social Business Initiative:

Social Media: The spaces where we interact with one another over the web, including public, private and semi-private spaces defined within, and by certain contexts.

Social Media Marketing: The use of social media spaces for marketing.

Social Business:Using the elements above to enable more efficient, effective, and net-new connections between people, information, and assets to drive business decision, action, and outcome across the enterprise.

Generally, firms do not consider their social strategies to be strong. Only about one in twenty-five report that their organizations have robust strategies and only 32% report their social strategies are well defined.  While companies are “doing” social activities, they typically are not creating a larger strategic framework to guide operations.  A contributing factor may be because organizations  infrequently connected the information gathered through the social channel to impact the larger organization’s behavior. About half (49%) report that they collect social outcomes data but rarely use them to drive change, account for success or failure of a larger strategic initiative.

Yet, despite social’s strategic limitations, executives generally support the work that has been done on the social initiatives. Almost 60% report that their executives support the social strategy that their organization has in place. We wondered if there is a gap in executive level understanding of the potential for social business impact that contributed to the low expectations of leadership.

Marketing typically leads their organizations’ social media strategy 50% of the time, and but chart the social business strategy course in only 32% of firms. As social business operations is often close to the heart of call centers, new product development and R&D, it makes sense that social business is not typically lead by marketing.  Interesting, close to two in ten organizations report that they currently do not have a leader for social business strategy. Makes you wonder whether in those cases, social business is happening in silos or management by committee?

Reach/awareness and collaboration with customers are the primary drivers for social strategy: Reach/awareness (76%) and collaboration with customers (62%) are the primary drivers for social strategy. While the focus in 2014 has been on moving from reach to engagement on social channels, this shift remains an aspirational goal for many organizations. Perhaps one of the reasons for this is lack of advanced collaboration skills among social media marketing and social business professionals. Only 24% of organizations reported have trained key personnel in social media skills.

Organizations are more focused on using social media to support externally-facing activities such as recruitment, than on supporting staff collaboration needs. The majority of organizations use social media platforms to recruit. Only 37% of organizations report having have a useful intranet.

Stay tuned as we will have more to share regarding this research, will be releasing the findings report on our current study on the impact of societal good on consumer’s social media behavior, and launching an updated “Big List” of B2B online customer communities – all in the coming weeks! If you would like a custom social business benchmark study done on your firm, please let us know.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Vanessa DiMauro
Vanessa DiMauro is CEO of Leader Networks, a research and strategy consulting company that helps organizations succeed in social business and B2B online community building. DiMauro is a popular speaker, researcher and author. She has founded numerous online communities, and has developed award winning social business strategies for some of the most influential organizations in the world. Her work is frequently covered by leading publications such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Forbes.


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