Social Business, maturity and the driver’s seat

As we are making preparations for our 2015 State of Social Business in France report with Hootsuite and Adetem (to be published in late August), I came across Ed Terpening’s Altimeter group report today. I am relaying this report per below. Here are a few findings together with my comments:

  • Scaling is no longer an issue for the US businesses surveyed by Altimeter group in that report. The focus has shifted on “integration of social with digital”. I feel like re-living Groundhog day. In my eyes, social media has never made sense in isolation, and to me the issue isn’t even the integration of social within digital (a no-brainer) but the integration of social within all parts of the business. To a large extent, the kind of work I did at Orange a long time ago was about just that. I’m not certain that this is a sign of superior maturity from our friends across the pond,
  • Breaking down silos requires more engagement from leaders but that, in essence, isn’t new either. In my eyes, it not only requires that, but also a lot of courage on the part of intrapreneurs; and social media managers must be intrapreneurs. That, in essence, is also a sign that the grass isn’t much greener across the water,
  • HR programmes and employee advocacy are high on the agenda and I can confirm that we are seeing this happening on this side of the planet as well. There is a renewed interest for that kind of programmes, with large businesses launching employee advocacy and social learning programmes across the board and more often than not, trying to figure out how to do it. My hunch is that, very often, the issue is understood as one of learning skills and induction/teaching issue, whereas it is mostly a question of change management. Our way of handling has more to do with change management than teaching per se, even though training is of course, and more than ever, on the agenda,
  • Digital (and particularly social) advertising is on the rise – that isn’t new either – and I’m not certain that this is a good thing, but as I said in that Hootsuite video recorded in mid 2013, there isn’t much choice about that, because marketers are determined to spend their advertising dollars on social. My two cents again: I believe they should be spending more time and effort on word-of-mouth but I know that it’s hard for anyone to drive marketers from spending money. Those who understand these issues better than others are the ones who, in my mind, will reap the best harvests ever.
more than ever, social business requires top management to be in the driver’s seat

Amongst other things I have also noticed the lag of B2B businesses but I see things happening in that area and even though it may be considered counter-intuitive I will continue to highlight that B2B is, in my eyes, a sector of choice for social media. Word of mouth is, in B2B, unavoidable because the issue of the true cost of digital/social advertising looms large on the agenda of B2B businesses. This forces them to find alternative strategies and it’s always in B2B that I find the most interesting and imaginative strategies. Call me stupid, but I think there is a huge potential there and so few agencies focus on those areas and so few have the means of investing in niche/complex subjects that this potential remains – as of today – vastly untapped