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Society for New Communications Research Blog

Mar
23
2017

The Social Potential Failure Threatening Companies Everywhere

By Gretchen Fox

If a world class social media organization is operating at a level 5, I would confidently wager that the great majority are falling between a 2 and a 3, max. I call organizations that are operating at a Level 5 “STARRs.”

At level 5, organizations have achieved:

  • Stand Out Authority Status
  • Top Fans & Follower Engagement
  • Agile Adoption of Tech & Trends
  • ROI Positive Social Marketing
  • Real-time responsiveness

According to a recent report by Altimeter Group, the most mature social businesses are both more profitable and have more loyal customers, each by a 77 percent margin, compared to social business laggards.

So, why aren’t more organizations reaching STARR status?

Quintin Harvey of the New York Times had one reason right when he said “The two main challenges are organizational and personal, as managers have to develop nonhierarchical cultures, where data and knowledge are exposed and shared, not hoarded.” These two challenges are actually just one reason: CEOs not leading the charge and passing off the job to staff who don’t have the authority to push cross-departmental change.

But after over a decade dedicated to the social industry, I can tell you — there are four other major reasons organizations aren’t reaching their social potential.

Here are all five reasons, developed into five steps that any organization can take to close the gap and reach level 5 STARR status on the social potential scale.

Here are five steps for organizations to reach their social potential, fast:

  1. Know Where You Stand

Without knowing where the organization stands, it’s impossible to see how far you have to go. Too many organizations think they are further ahead than they are because they have never taken the time to assess themselves. Organizations can use this interactive online social media assessment tool to find out where they stand across the social system, the five pillars of social media. I recommend a 360 degree assessment with everyone who leads and touches social from senior executives to junior employees and third party marketing partners. It’s astounding how many different perspectives can be held inside one organization on this topic. Don’t be discouraged if you have had an over-inflated sense of your organization’s proficiency, just move to step two.

  1. Determine Your Social Potential

Once it is clear where the organization stands across these five pillars, it is easy to identify the holes and missed opportunities. Each of the pillars are on a continuum. If the first pillar, Social Identity is not done to a level 5, missed opportunities include a lack of an authoritative social presence and the critical “social proof” necessary for potential customers researching and comparison shopping online. If pillar four, social marketing and sales are not at a level 5, the social program is likely a cost center vs. a profit center. And the most dangerous miss of all happens with pillar five, social intelligence. When organizations are not socially savvy, they are not able to respond to the real-time social web if and when a crisis hits. Determine your potential and then…

  1. Lead The Charge

Another point of failure and reason why organizations are falling short on reaching their social potential is in the belief that social media is something that can be handed off to a junior employee without any senior, strategic guidance and leadership. This underestimated mistake continues to stunt the growth of social programs, cutting it off at the pass with a vision and strategy that shows junior-level thinking and scope. To ensure organizations reach their full social potential, requires CEO buy-in and executive-level ownership. This is the only way data is not hoarded and the territorialism from the silos created in traditional business structures are rendered ineffective.

  1. Create A Road Map For Social Success

Once there is a clear assessment, a clear vision of the potential, the next step is developing a road map to get from A to Z. This road map is the master key to success being employed by the small percentage of businesses and brands who have mastered social media and capitalized on its potential. The biggest challenge is there aren’t many senior strategists who can lead companies through to their potential. This is what has been coined as “the social media skills gap” and it is an enormous issue facing organizations around the world. Finding a senior strategist is extremely difficult. This is because most of the senior strategists have left the social industry to pioneer new territory like augmented reality, virtual reality and the shared economy, leaving a giant hole in senior-level expertise for organizations who need to do the heavy lifting to reach their social potential. If you have a senior strategist, keep them and empower them. If you don’t, get one fast.

  1. Commit To Reaching Your Social Potential

This last reason, the one that organizations seem to struggle with the most and the one I’m going to be talking about way more over the coming months is this: executives are failing to commit the resources required to be successful. It seems most will wait until a newer, more agile and more socially sophisticated company comes screeching past and they’re caught flat footed before moving into action. Instead of waiting for that moment and then scrambling to stop the bleeding, why not commit to reaching your social potential now. You never know, your biggest competitor could be reading this very article right now.

Debate question: What has been your biggest obstacle to achieving the #socialpotential of your organization?

This piece was originally published by Forbes.



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