Many enterprises suffer from a little-documented condition known as “social media insecurity.” These anxiety-plagued firms are fearful that somehow, somewhere, they are falling behind their competitors and will suffer unforeseen hardships and failure if they are not at the cutting edge of social media activity. Of course, precise performance metrics for the cutting — or even bleeding — edge are elusive, if not downright impossible to determine. This is especially true for B2B organizations who may be overly influenced by consumer social media tools and examples.
These firms don’t realize that every company need not break new social media ground. In fact, for many B2B companies, it’s neither desirable nor beneficial for them to emulate the practices of their consumer counterparts — especially in regulated or more traditional industries. Social media initiatives should support the firm’s underlying business strategy, not the other way around!
Another aspect of social media insecurity are organizations which fail to acknowledge there is a normal learning curve for adoption of new tools and techniques for conducting social business. Crawl – walk – run; this is how most individuals — and firms — learn new skills and behaviors. Social business is a powerful change agent, and change takes time.
This model stems from our research findings and fueled by The Leader Networks Social Business Assessment (a process that helps an organization identify their current and desired maturity level to help them align their operations with strategic intent).
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Starting with the least complex and internally-focused firms, a “Socially Familiar” organization experiments with social media marketing on a limited or controlled basis. Their goal is to discover and learn about the tools, rules and outcomes of their social media initiatives.
Firms with a focus on external activities might adopt the “Socially Present” organization’s goals: establish reach and awareness of products and services through social media marketing and engage with customers online.
The “Socially Enabled” organization seeks to leverage social media activities across a wide variety of functional groups, driving their value into all customer-facing initiatives in a comprehensive and strategic way.
Finally, the “Socially Integrated” organization has made the transition from a social media marketing-driven approach to a fully-integrated social business mindset, where the emphasis is on using social tools and techniques to deliver value by influencing core operations and strategy, as well as marketing.
You get the point. There are learning curves to master, strategies to develop and operations to align. Not all companies want or need to achieve complete social integration in the upper right quadrant. The idea is to identify the correct quadrant for your organization, then align your goals and activities accordingly, measuring your success against those objectives.