Will your social media team still be around in a year’s time?

 In social business

better-wayI’ve been speaking with many organisations over the last few weeks about how they can make better use of social in their organisation.

As I speak to senior people about their existing social presence and strategy, something that has really struck me is how isolated some of their social teams are from the rest of the business.

At meetings over the last few weeks, I was told about the “social media reports” prepared by the “social team”.

In many cases, these reports are simply not read in a timely manner by those who should be reading them (or not read at all), because they talk about activity  and don’t provide actionable insights for the rest of the business.

Reports that measure the number of followers, likes and retweets are nice, but they are in many ways completely disconnected from the rest of the business, and the metrics that matter.

Now I’m not here to suggest you need to get rid of your social media team – on the contrary, your existing social team has provided a strong beachhead upon which you can build a solid social business – but only if you follow my advice below.

Why is social media still seen as “nice to have” in many companies?

In early 2013, Brian Solis and Charlene Li from Altimeter Group released a landmark report titled “Six Stages of Social Business Transformation” where the standout statistic was that only 34% of companies surveyed felt that their social strategy was connected to business outcomes.

altimeter-social-business

Now here’s where the alarm bells ring for me.

If the activity of the “social media team” is not connected to business outcomes, then they won’t be around in 12- 18 months. One of the issues that the Altimeter report highlighted was that companies without a true social business focus end up de-scoping their social media activities unless they can be tied to real and measurable business benefits.

What happens next is the funding dries up, headcount is frozen and the CEO rightly says to the board “we tried social media and it just wasn’t right for us”.

When I hear how some social teams are operating (in a silo), I wonder if they will be around this time next year.

In some cases, it will be up to the social team to prolong their own existence by ensuring that their internal sponsor (in many cases the CMO) insists that a social business strategy (not just a social media one) is firmly on the agenda of the C-suite.

A recent IBM C-suite study found that when asked about the most significant challenges to implementing a digital strategy within the enterprise, “lack of a cohesive social media plan” was the number one answer.

ibm-c-suite-digital-challenge

Source: IBM IBV C-Suite study 2013

Let me reiterate the key focus of this post.

If you operate your social media activities and team as simply an extension of your marketing campaigns (and are chasing metrics such as likes and follower numbers), then you are doing it all wrong, and your department will get their funding cut by the end of 2014.

Instead, spend some of the energy you are putting in to chasing those likes and social campaigns to drive “impressions”, and spend time educating your C-suite on why they need to become a social business.

I just shook my head recently when I found out that the latest social media report had not been read at one company, and at another, the amazing insights from social interactions and insights never made it to the people who could really use them – the front-line staff of the business.

If it was my budget, I would insist that all of the social efforts could be tied back to metrics that matter to the business, without having to translate them from “social speak” into language the C-suite understands.

In 2014, it is time for social to grow up, move out of the marketing department and into all parts of the business, along with the cultural change required for social to have a seat at the top table.

Don’t let your social team get shut down because you let them focus only on marketing metrics, and chasing things that matter to the social team, and not the board and shareholders.

Ensure that social is as important to the business as your key business metrics.

You should also read my 2014 follow up to this post How to avoid having your social media team become a “social switchboard”.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below or tweet me @AndrewGrill

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About 

Based in London, Practical Futurist and former Global Managing Partner at IBM, Andrew Grill is a popular and sought-after presenter and commentator on issues around digital disruption, workplace of the future and new technologies such as blockchain. Andrew is a multiple TEDx and International Keynote Speaker.

  • RT @AndrewGrill: Will your social media team still be around in a year’s time? Not if they don’t focus on the #MetricsThatMatter http://t.c…

  • London Calling: Will your social media team still be around in a year’s time?: I’ve been speaking with many so… http://t.co/HhMYBHXXat

  • Will your social media team still be around in a year’s time? – London Calling social business: http://t.co/ofCGCPTRqp

  • RT @AndrewGrill: Will your social media team still be around in a year’s time? Not if they don’t focus on the #MetricsThatMatter http://t.c…

  • RT @azeem: Will you social media team disappear in 2014? Good thinking by @andrewgrill http://t.co/hONXQl26QK

  • In 2014, it is time for social to grow up, move out of the marketing dept & into all parts of the biz
    http://t.co/E4Qqs1soDF v @AndrewGrill

  • How connected your social media metrics are with your business metrics?
    http://t.co/qV0UpobcIU! #contentmarketing

  • “@MervynDinnen: Will your social media team still be around in a year’s time? – http://t.co/tcZJuxhk4i via @andrewgrill” YES

  • Great overview. The issue as I see it is that many in charge of ‘social’ within organisations are themselves far removed from how the business actually makes or saves money. The larger the organisation, the more endemic the problem as people are comfortable in the old model of media. For example, someone who works in the comms department typically is measured on the column inches they generate rather than how much customer loyalty they create or stakeholder they inspire to advocate.

    Then there’s the organisational politics at play. For example, I was speaking to an friend in the industry who had a client that had volunteered to be the ‘social media lead’ at a company. However despite taking on the role continued to lambast the agency employed to execute community management for not being able to show how the likes/shares etc were tracking back to business results required (ie leads). Digging a bit further, my colleague found out that reason the client had volunteered for the role wasn’t to improve her business results per se but felt it would be a route to a promotion. A vanity project.

    This is a sad but true reality for the social media perception inside many large businesses. It has been seen as a vanity project rather than a true business enabler and has been treated as such. Change can’t come soon enough IMO.

  • RT @AndrewGrill: Will your social media team be around in a year’s time? #socialbusiness http://t.co/FfmMtTYBUZ

  • Will your social media team still be around in a year’s time? – London Calling social business: @widecircle http://t.co/nDT2aZV3gM

  • @andrewgrill asks: Will your social media team still be around in a year’s time? http://t.co/MdZxRboCsz

  • RT @AndrewGrill: Will your social media team be around in a year’s time? My view is no if they don’t help become a #socialbusiness http://t…

  • If your #socialmedia team isn’t connected to business outcomes they won’t be around in 18 months http://t.co/WtIuVSR7IT via @AndrewGrill

  • RT @PaulBromford: If your #socialmedia team isn’t connected to business outcomes they won’t be around in 18 months http://t.co/WtIuVSR7IT v…

  • RT @ctanowitz: Tie your social media goals to business results, not just likes & followers, or risk being defunded. http://t.co/eflWsQPq0T

  • RT @StatusPeople: Will your social media team still be around in a year’s time? http://t.co/DjRfv9wYHV >> Excellent stuff via @AndrewGrill

  • Will your social media team still be around in a year’s time? #socbiz #sm #CMO #socialmedia http://t.co/yTo6Yfpvyd

  • RT @MervynDinnen: Will your social media team still be around in a year’s time? – http://t.co/KtCLfqqCon via @andrewgrill

  • Good analysis Eb, and interesting on the vanity reason for wanting to go into social. Had not heard that one before.

  • RT @zacharyjeans: In 2014, it is time for social to grow up, move out of the marketing dept & into all parts of the biz
    http://t.co/E4Qqs1…

  • Ramin Mobasseri

    Love th

  • Will your social media team still be around in 1 years time? http://t.co/Zcgug1ljGF KEY INSIGHT: Align Social Media to business KPIs or die!

  • If your #socialmedia team isn’t connected to business outcomes they won’t be around in 18 months http://t.co/ceWftVxMFW via @AndrewGrill

  • RT @PaulBromford: If your #socialmedia team isn’t connected to business outcomes they won’t be around in 18 months http://t.co/ceWftVxMFW v…

  • Will your social media team still be around in a year’s time? – London Calling social business: http://t.co/euI3qhuoXT

  • Will your social media team still be around in a year’s time? – London Calling social business: http://t.co/1oFhi2Xzf8

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  • Rachel Miller @AllthingsIC

    Great article Andrew and music to my ears.
    One of the things that struck me from Brian and Charlene’s work in ‘The State of Social Business 2013: The Maturing of Social Media into Social Business’, was the information about who is involved.

    It stated: “Social media is extending deeper into organisations, and at the same time, strategies are maturing. Companies can’t scale social media across the enterprise with a core team alone. Organisations are increasingly having dedicated employees working on social initiatives, with up to 13 different departments involved.”
    – That was the first time I’d seen a figure attached in terms of reach across companies.
    Keep up the good work!
    Rachel

  • I would definitely agree that separating social strategy from business strategy is less than ideal, not only because of the big ROI and KPI questions, but also because it frequently results in a disconnect in priorities of the respective teams. Does the social team believe that share of voice is the #1 priority, whereas the business cares more about brand sentiment or sales channels? Until social and biz folks are connected at the hip, social will be nothing more than an expendable appendage.

  • RT @marie_wallace: Will your social media team still be around in a year’s time? HT @AndrewGrill #socbiz http://t.co/cZ3U1RYIXf > Agree par…

  • Social media teams need to get their posteriors out of the MARKETING DEPT. and knee deep in the whole business. http://t.co/4sF2DRVdkd

  • Marie, spot on analysis and look forward to seeing you at #connect2014 in Orlando next January

  • fiona thwaites

    Thank you Andrew for the piece. I completely agree that until Social is recognised in the C-suite as being able to deliver critical consumer insights that direct product evolution, customer service and business focus the Social team will always be in danger. In order to get to this place the “social teams” and the rest of the business, together, need to define the metrics that make most sense to their unique situations. So many social reporting engines give the basics as they are out of box solutions. Its the insights, intuition and business context that social teams can provide that will be invaluable once they are truly involved in the business top to bottom.

  • RT @azeem: Will you social media team disappear in 2014? Good thinking by @andrewgrill http://t.co/hONXQl26QK

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  • .@AndrewGrill: Will your social media team still be around in a year’s time? Forget silos, put PEOPLE FIRST! http://t.co/iM8N0ouz3H #socbiz

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  • Really great post on social by @AndrewGrill much better than the general noise and bandwagon jumping you see http://t.co/Co3lvY6W4z

  • @ImogenQuigley @emilyvcullen why we need to link the social journey to ext. role success and the stats to util http://t.co/fdbgRQ1e9d

  • Usget

    I agree with this analysis. In my experience “Social” is often seen as an atomic object, which you either “do” or “don’t do”. Many organisations have yet to grasp that social media is, at its most basic and useful level, a massive dump of information which can be refined and used to help inform business decisions. Instead, they use it as (at best) another way of broadcasting information to their existing customers. The difference between enterprises who grasp the ideas contained within this blog, and those who don’t, is blindingly obvious to the end user – and indeed it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, as people are less likely to interact with enterprises who make a bad job of social media, leading the C-suite inexorably towards the “We tried social and it didn’t work” conclusion…

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