How to tell if your Company is Advanced: 10 Criteria Of Social Business Maturity

Excited about your new Facebook page but don’t know what’s next?  What does a truly advanced company look like in social business?  They can say yes to seven or more of these ten criteria.

We’ve been interviewing the most sophisticated brands in the world when it comes to social business for our upcoming report on “Enterprise Social Strategists Role”.  We’ve come to learn which companies are advanced and why.  Secondly, I meet a variety of companies who tell me they are “Very advanced, having done this for a few years, and have dozens of Facebook efforts” but when I ask them some specific questions on their sophistication, they often retract their statement.

How to tell if your Company is Advanced: 10 Criteria Of Social Business Maturity
Corporations that have these and other following elements in place, may truly be sophisticated when it comes to social business:

  1. Clear understanding of customers’ socialgraphics. Clear understanding of how their customers use social media by knowing the socialgraphics of your customers.  Granular knowledge of where their customers are, which behaviors they use, who they trust for information, and how they influence their peers in the context of their own products.
    The true test? Your company can adjust budgets of your integrated social strategy based on data –not gut feel.
  2. Your organization is in Hub and Spoke, Dandelion, or Holistic formation. Social technologies enable all employees that want to talk to customers to do so.  This means a massive change inside of your organization to get ready.  Your company is sophisticated if you’ve organized in the Hub and Spoke, Dandelion, or Holistic and all employees clearly know their role, process, and contact points.
    The true test? A product crises has emerged on YouTube on a Friday evening before a three day weekend and you can sleep peacefully.
  3. Corporate website integration: Social sign on. When customers come to the corporate site, they can see which one of their friends uses which product, and what they think about it.  Common technologies would include OpenID, Facebook Connect, and other social sign on technologies.  See my keynote presentation on the maturity roadmap to follow.
    The true test? You can disable your corporate registration page and use social logins instead without fear of reduction in leads.
  4. Personalized corporate website based on social data. When a prospect (someone who’s never logged into you website before) arrives to your corporate website, they receive a customized experience based on their social IDs.  This would be based on Social CRM infrastructure, social sign on technology and a large inventory of personalized content.
    The true test? The voices of the consumers real world friends emerge above that of the brand right on the corporate website, see Levi’s foray.
  5. Thriving advocacy program: customers are actively selling on your behalf. The sophisticated marketing program isn’t really the company talking much at all, instead they’ve a thriving advocacy program and word of mouth program that encourages customers to recruit prospects for them –all unpaid.  Learn how to do this, by reading this piece on Forbes.
    The true test? most leads are coming in through existing customers –not your sales team.
  6. A community of customers supports each other, reducing support center calls. A company that has a thriving branded community where customers are self-supporting each other with little aid from the brand or the support team is a sign of a sophisticated social support program.
    The true test? A majority of customer support issues are resolved by community faster, with greater satisfaction than your dedicated support team.
  7. Anticipation of prospects and customers using Social CRM technology.  Brands can anticipate before a customer has a problem, or grab leads “right out of the air” by using brand monitoring software, intelligent keyword monitoring and responding to be faster than real time using Social CRM strategies.
    The true test? sales and marketing are getting leads before the consideration phase, and the support team reduces inbound calls by triggering the community to resolve a potential issue before it’s escalated.
  8. Innovation of new products with customers using web collaboration.  Companies that use these same tools to glean input from customers (ethnographic data collection) or create private communities, or use collaboration and innovation tools like Ideastorm or Uservoice and build new products and services demonstrate true sophistication.
    The true test? faster time to market on products because consumers have dictated the specifications, and less inventory as the product is built on spec.
  9. Supply chain is influenced by social data in real time. Social media isn’t just about marketing and support, but is very valuable in listening to customer signals then to anticipate which products, services, and teams should be when and where.
    The true test? Your company is sophisticated if you’re using social data to adjust your supply chain in real time based on customer signals from checkins, tweets, and plancasts.
  10. Real time reporting of revenues, costs and efficiency:  I’ve met with some of the most advanced teams, and they have clear reporting and can measure the increased revenues (over the total cost of the program) to tell their executives the true ROI of their business program.
    The true test? Real time dashboard measures the health of all social channels revenues, CSAT, sentiment and overall program costs.

We’ve done research on the roadmap for companies to reach these 10 levels of nirvana, but have found few companies that have done a few, or even a majority of them. If you know of any companies that have achieved five out of ten of these criteria, we’d love to know, please leave a comment.

Update: I asked folks in Twitter which brands are scoring well, here’s what they said (I’ve not done analysis to confirm):

65 Replies to “How to tell if your Company is Advanced: 10 Criteria Of Social Business Maturity”

  1. Excellent stuff from Jeremiah. Being who I am, number 7 is very close to my heart. With the launch of our Twitter Sales Leads 2.0 in live beta on the site this week and its tight integration with all the sales tools in our SocialCRM systems, we are keenly aware of the need and desire of sales and marketing people to be able to do stuff like you say. Get the lead almost before it exists. This is something we have absolutely at the core of our business and will continue to develop. There are others better placed than us to help with some of the other parts; communities per se are not our forte (although we do support them within the site).

    Please have a look and see what you think, it won’t cost you anything other than a little time.

    http://www.wecando.biz – you can sign in with Twitter and then click Twitter Sales Leads – apologies if this seems like advertising but we are really excited about where all this is going and it is great to be able to respond so directly to something Jeremiah has said so clearly.

  2. Great piece. I'd suggest not all the criteria are on the same level though. For example social sign on for a corporate site is a tactic more relevant to certain types of companies than others (some don't even need sign on) versus innovation on new products. In our case – we do the first with Pepsi Refresh Everything but its not needed as much for our corporate site. And with programs like Dewmocracy we do a lot of customer co-creation.

  3. Excellent post. I doubt too many companies are passing these tests with flying colors. Just one example: As long as the first question by the support staff is: what's your phone number? After I just entered it at the voice prompt a few seconds earlier, we are still in a state of disconnect and silo. Much work remains to be done to arrive at a truly great brand experience by customers.

  4. (I'm re-posting my comment because I think I might have forgotten to hit “post” last time; please ignore me if I'm duplicating)…

    Enjoyed this post, Jeremiah. The one other thing I'd like to see is a focus on internal communication and systems; wiring that in is so critical to businesses being able to respond in real time and understand how efforts in one area of the business can impact another. Many of the companies I see making strides with social media put a strong emphasis on their internal communication as well as their external efforts.

    Thanks and cheers!
    Amber Naslund, Radian6

  5. This is a nice map of where organizations should look to go. Can't wait for the B2B version. Social signon for accessing NDA documentation or corporate account information wouldn't pass our CSO's desk would just one way a B2C and B2B social org would conduct themselves.

  6. I think this is a great article and provides a lot to think about. The only thing that struck me as a little off was the test of social website integration, and turning off standard registration. If it's a question asked in theory to test your capabilities it makes sense, but in practice you could alienate a large segment. There are still many people not on social networks, and just many that are social, but don't wish to share every activity.

  7. Hi JO – respectfully, I'd call this more indicative of social marketing maturity. While points 7 – 9 touch on activity behind traditional firewalls, all points focus on internal+external connections. Internal+internal connections can drive immense value as well and are critical to making 1 – 10 a reality.

    At this early stage, I imagine that many companies will score a 0/10 on this list. It is still early, right?

  8. A valid point Peter

    Most companies will certainly score in the low arena, yes. But a few companies (as Intel self-indicated they're at 5) will do well. I'd expect Dell, Starbucks, Comcast to have many of these programs in place, indicating a higher degree of maturity.

    This doesn't take into account the internal enterprise collaboration space (internal+internal), but it does take into account support, product innovation, and supply chain, so it's much more than 'marketing'. (6,7,8,9 are beyond marketing alone)

    The socialgraphics and organizational model (criteria 1+2) are needed for any of the programs, from support, product, marketing, sales, or internal collaboration.

  9. This is why permission based systems will be key. Also, don't forget that Gmail, Yahoo, MSN, AOL are all social networks. Last night, Apple launched their own “Ping”, it's truly pervasive.

  10. Thanks Matt, yes B2B needs and regulated companies will have different requirements.

    Don't forget Microsoft's latest office development, docs.com (online version of office apps) is powered by Facebook logins.

    This means that for this “enterprisey” apps by Microsoft, Facebook is the “Active Directory.”

  11. Really interesting POV. I suspect that this guide will vary greatly if the company is in the product vs. services business, regulated vs. unregulated, and direct vs. distributed model. That said, very clear perspectives for where organizations “should be”

  12. This list of criteria impressively comprehensive. However, I would add:

    11. Traditional Business Intelligence (BI) leverages social intelligence data
    The current BI picture is incomplete. Traditional BI input has been limited to data created inside the company using ERP applications. Meanwhile, there is a massive amount of information being generated in social media that can be leveraged to compete the BI picture. Needless to say, factors that affect the operation of a company exist both inside and OUTSIDE the company. Companies that view social media users as “ready-made organic focus groups” and combine the social intelligence data gleaned from social media with their internally-generated business traditional business intelligence data can vastly enhance their decision-making, competitiveness and agility.

  13. This list of criteria impressively comprehensive. However, I would add:

    11. Traditional Business Intelligence (BI) leverages social intelligence data
    The current BI picture is incomplete. Traditional BI input has been limited to data created inside the company using ERP applications. Meanwhile, there is a massive amount of information being generated in social media that can be leveraged to compete the BI picture. Needless to say, factors that affect the operation of a company exist both inside and OUTSIDE the company. Companies that view social media users as “ready-made organic focus groups” and combine the social intelligence data gleaned from social media with their internally-generated business traditional business intelligence data can vastly enhance their decision-making, competitiveness and agility.

  14. This is really thoughtful as usual. I agree with others here like Peter that this is largely aspirational today, even if it's a sign of where companies are going. Yet I don't think every company would want to strive for a 10 out of 10. It's not unlike what Charlene addressed in Open Leadership, where not every company needs to be totally open – there are different degrees of openness that are appropriate for different organizations. Similarly, there are different degrees of 'socialness' that are appropriate. Not every business may find that their goals are served by third-party logins from social sites, crowdsourced ideas, and consumer feedback trumping brand-centric messaging. Still, just about any enterprise can benefit by reviewing this list and seeing what score they'd want to get; if they don't want to get a 10, they should still have a good grasp as to why.

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  17. Thanks JO for a super informative post. Many people will do well to use this as a blueprint for their endevours in this space.

    Now if only Gmail, Yahoo or MSN enabled a social sign-in process with websites.

  18. Hi Jeremiah –

    Is this meant to be a progression from 1 to 10? That seems a bit too simplistic to me because what I’m seeing is that different companies start in different places with their social initiative and, to Peter’s point, this doesn’t include much in the way of internal efforts and that’s critical because I know of many companies who are spending a lot of time getting their ducks in a row internally before they take on external initiatives.

    We’ve been building similar assessment criteria based on the Community Maturity Model – http://community-roundtable.com/2009/06/the-community-maturity-model/ – and find there are only a limited number of artifacts currently that can definitively identify how mature a company is because common best practices are just emerging. Instead we see there being a lot of ‘highly likely’ artifacts for each stage of maturity. We’ll be updating both the required and likely artifacts as the best practices emerge.

    Regardless this is a good conversation to have – thanks for publishing and getting people talking about it – it really helps move the ball forward on what people understand to be common elements of social business maturity.

  19. When referring to subject matter experts in this space we used to reference a few professionals … that list has now come down to just one!

    Your continued contribution and insight serves as a road map for smaller agencies. So on behalf of us all … THANKS!

    And great post!

  20. I would love to see some of the reports for #10: Real time reporting of revenues, costs and efficiency. This seems to be the most challenging area for me, as if is tough to measure influence you had on a person(s) via social tactics when you are selling B2B and there are soo many people involved within the sales cycle. Being that social tactics trend much lower to actual cost per lead, there is huge opportunity here for companies to create much higher ROI. Another challenge I have seen recently is measuring all social referrals via web analytics, being that it seems URL shortnening services are breaking some of the tracking. And who wants to have to force tactic codes on everyone?

    As always, great post.

  21. Colleen

    I stem from a B2B background, and I wrote this thinking of both types. It extends to both.

    In regards to the comment below about Social Sign On with Facebook, in the B2B sense it could still use LinkedIn profiles. (see my response below about Microsoft using FB connect for Docs.com)

  22. This is a great addition. You are right. Traditional BI must be augmented by social data, however so what? What's the physical manifestation?

    Items 8, 9 ,10 are the physical manifestations of Social BI: innovation, supply chain impacts, and the associated reporting.

    What do you think?

  23. It's not a 1-10 progression, it's a checklist. Some may have some criteria over others. I happened to link to your framework in the above comment before I saw this, thanks Rachel.

  24. wow I would just like to say Congrats. I have never seen this site until 10 minute's ago and my first impression was quite bad. You see I clicked one of your link's from a facebook discussion and the first thing I thought was “how can this person be telling me how to drive more traffic to my facebook page but then not not have any retweet's or people sharing said person's content on facebook” slightly confused I gave in to curiosity and decided to look at the most recent post and BAM 500+ plus retweet's, let's say that shut me up!! It's amazing what can be achieved through hard work and perseverance. So again Congratulations!

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  26. Some pretty big hurdles to overcome to reach maturity. Not sure the ROI at present is going to be too positive as you reach to achieve all these benchmarks. If a company sincerely and earnestly applied their resources to achieving with a modicum of success each and every standard what would you think they would reap in return?

  27. I agree that 8, 9 and 10 are examples of Social Intelligence. However limiting Social Intelligence to just those three examples leaves a good number of cases uncovered. Social media does a tremendous job of capturing data that relates to the macroenvironment of a business (in addition to micro). For example a grassroots campaign that can result in a proposition/law that affects a business' operations can be easily spotted in social media way ahead of time. Companies with mature social media strategies use social intelligence data to glean insights into not only microenvironment factors but the macroenvironment factors that affect their business. Therefore, I see Items 8, 9 and 10 falling under my proposed addition as criteria for social intelligence maturity. In addition, depending on the vertical, there are other cases relating to political, technological, natural, economic and cultural factors that that impact a business that can be gleaned from social intelligence data. Their actual resulting physical manifestations may end up being the same as 8, 9 and 10.

  28. I've spoken to a few firms that have a handful of these completed, they are measuring a positive ROI and are growing their programs.

    All of these things I've mentioned above are completed by different companies around the industry, but no firm has done all of them yet.

  29. My company is still a newborn in this category. All we have right now is a corporate website that’s not even user-friendly. We actually want to include new media in our array of service (btw, I work in an ad agency), but we are not very familiar with it and we (actually, they) are afraid of selling something that we do not know. Anyways, thanks for this! Let me share with you a good read on Combining Social Networking with Efficiency for Better Results. 🙂

  30. My company is still a newborn in this category. All we have right now is a corporate website that's not even user-friendly. We actually want to include new media in our array of service (btw, I work in an ad agency), but we are not very familiar with it and we (actually, they) are afraid of selling something that we do not know. Anyways, thanks for this! Let me share with you a good read on Combining Social Networking with Efficiency for Better Results. 🙂

  31. Hi Jeremiah – as requested…

    Here's some examples… All Atlassian. Get a drink, you'll be here a while. 😉

    ~

    Public Dashboard into their documentation and much more. Community can log into this and add comments to pages. http://confluence.atlassian.com/dashboard.action

    ==

    Atlassian Developer Network with downloads, getting started, examples, IRCs, etc. to get going. http://confluence.atlassian.com/display/DEVNET/Welcome+to+the+Atlassian+Developer+Network

    ==

    AtlasCamp “community building” is a good current (in process at this writing) example – attendees have a list of online tasks, tweets, engagement, points, e2.0 competition, etc.: http://confluence.atlassian.com/display/ATL/The+Great+AtlasCamp+Game+2010

    ==

    Atlassian Dragons is also a great example – having participants tweeting their progress… in fact, many that do the dragons were never on twitter before: http://confluence.atlassian.com/display/ATLAS/Here+Be+Dragons

    ==

    Atlassian blogs are constant, and engaging – also emailed out for subscribers, or RSS feeds. In general, a constant and great stream: http://blogs.atlassian.com/

    ==

    Atlassian forums are a HIGHLY engaged area – up to 1000 posts a week… (I know – since I feed them to a filtered email and don't even get them all). : http://forums.atlassian.com/index.jspa

    ==

    Atlassian tweet accounts (@atlassian, @JIRAGuru, @ConfluenceGURU, @atlassiandev, etc..) for most products, most campaigns or events (@AtlassianSummit, @AtlasCamp, etc.), and often “fans” of Atlassian have created accts to assist in “rallying the crowd”…

    Follow the “Atlassian” word (and product names) on twitter – and the community involvement and excitement shared is endless.

    ==

    Atlassian support is all done via their own product – JIRA online.
    https://support.atlassian.com/secure/Dashboard.jspa

    Their own product issue tracking list is all visible too. Also Dev Network JIRA: http://jira.atlassian.com

    ==

    Atlassian Plugin Exchange, which also invites community comment and contributions: https://plugins.atlassian.com/plugin/home

    ==

    Their Twitter “widget” is embedded in their website and they encourage #COnfluenceTips, #JIRATips, etc.. and even have a “badge” for community members to put on their website. http://confluence.atlassian.com/display/DOC/Tips+via+Twitter

    ==

    Extensive archived conference presentations. : http://www.atlassian.com/summit/2010/presentations/general-sessions/atlassian-summit-2010-keynote-1.jsp

    ==

    Facebook page is quite active with blog and other announcements. : http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/AtlassianSoftware

    ==

    Partners are encouraged to be “Social” on Alassian's behalf, or related. Highly active and found easily on twitter, facebook, etc. : http://confluence.atlassian.com/display/APW/Partner+Wiki+Home

    Likely missing some – but this is a pretty good list on its own I think, to the topic – ..

  32. @Daniel and @Jeremiah – I recently presented a Social Media Maturity Model for Financial Services at a conference in NYC. While a maturity model is not meant to just be a checklist, it does however provide a common framework, starting points and prioritized activities to help companies increase their engagement levels.

    A link to the maturity model is at http://everydaytenacity.com/asset-management-marketing/financial-services-increase-social-media-engagement

  33. Superb article, Jeremiah! Thank you for your AMAZING contribution to the field AND your strong belief and practice of open mentoring! Nathaniel Hansen, CEO, The Socializers

  34. Hi Jeremiah,

    Just some thoughts. Have been working with Maturity Models in one way or another for some time. Your checklist is a great way to get some quick insights. Would love to seen the more CMMI for social Maturity Models you created for customers ;). If you could share?

    I personally developed an Enterprise Social Media Maturity Model (ESM3) with a mainly internal focus (although I have found it applies very well on any level). Short presentation on Slideshare http://slidesha.re/1aCgo6 or images only on http://bit.ly/dVbG8B en http://bit.ly/enZBux.

    What strikes me that in a growing industry, there seems to be a lot of value in assessing where you are as an organization and how to move forward from there. In the end, it is not the awareness of where you are and where you want to go, but actually getting the organization to start moving in this direction. Change management skills are therefore key!

    In the market there are numerous maturity models, ranging from social media, to webanalytics, SEO maturity and digital marketing strategy maturity.

    There are 2 things I would like to address:
    1) from a company’s perspective, it would be very useful to have a comprehensive maturity model, covering (on an overview level) all elements which are relevant to stimulating and improving the use of innovation and digital channels.
    2) measuring maturity is just one element of being succesful. Having the right strategy and buidling your online channel accordingly are the other parts. Therefore either Maturity Models should go hand in hand with Balanced Scorecards, etc. Or, there should be a comprehensive monitor to help organizations to review their performance.

    What do you think? Do you agree that an global, standardized and comprehensive E-Business Monitor is something to work towards?

  35. Understanding and managing vendor relationships is especially important with cloud computing because a better vendor relationship gives you a better view of the capabilities of the provider’s services—more so than we expected

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