I’ve tried to capture how corporate adoption of Social Media evolves with each stage adding to the other.

Corporate Social Evolution

Stage 0

– Enter the Experimenter, the geek, the lone ranger evangelist who either begins with a blog, or encourages setup of discussion forums, and is listening across social channels. Essentially some key motivated individuals are driving the initiative who want to share information & reach out to others.

Stage 1

– The marketing and sales folks join the party, now start the fumbles and falls, what the hell do we do on these channels, lets start, review and then figure out a more cohesive strategy… some budgets are allocated, confusion reigns with social metrics like likes, re-tweets, views etc. (seems like the early 2000′s internet days). Soon questions on ROI emerge. Then after a few stumbles comes the realization that hey we can’t just do this alone we got to get our other teams in on this….

Stage 2 - Evolution of Corporate Social Media AdoptionStage 2

– This is probably the most challenging, cause to be successful one needs to break internal structures, and across the organization “Be Social”.

Realization dawns that hey this benefits us across the organization, it’s not just sales… customer service, research(crowd sourcing ideas) almost everyone can benefit… And then another realization sinks in, we really can’t do this alone, we need the help of external independent advocates and communities. This stage in particular is really crucial in the transformation of the organization into a truly social enterprise and it can be a tough long journey. Moreover, it’s typically around this stage that companies realize that being social online is not the end-all, it stretches across all interaction points, across traditional channels as well.

360 Degree Social Engagement

Let’s not forget even today, in the world enamoured by Social media (FB, Twitter, YouTube, G+ etc…) 94% of word of mouth marketing happens offline in the real world, in real face to face interactions between people. (Source: Google/Keller Fay Group, U.S. June 2011 (Word of Mouth and the Internet)). 360 degree social engagement across initiatives(traditional and social media), integration across channels and business functions becomes crucial. It’s at this stage that organization often create so called “Social Media Listening Command Centers”. However, the volume of people on social channels, and volume of data they generate is exceptionally large and the organization needs to do much more.

Stage 3

– Wanna guess what it is? ping me with your ideas and I’ll let you in on mine :-)

What I’ve realized is that the stages are not silos or necessarily sequential in entirety, nor are they distinctly separated… but it’s a helluva exciting time for any organization which realizes the necessity of transforming from their cocoons into a social enterprise…

Some other thoughts – I’ve tried to get the basics across in describing this evolution. As you’d realise that by the time organizations reach stage 2, they realise the necessity for processes and frameworks, whether it’s a framework for listening or engagement with the community, or a framework for creating and and managing an advocate program or measuring influence. Note: Influence measurement is very different from measuring sentiment, most tools today only measure the latter.

Lastly, see below for a pictorial view of Dell’s Social Media Evolution (source: http://www.slideshare.net/ManishMehta/the-journey-of-business-adoption-to-realize-benefits-of-social-media)

Early Dell Social Media Milestones

What has been the path for your company? How and at what stage are you at?

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