It's easy to be perplexed by the plethora of social media opportunities that continuously emerge, offering new and ingenious ways for organizations to enrich their interactions and engagement with consumers. But in order to capture the true efficiencies and competitive advantage that can be gained, organizations need to move their social media efforts beyond the marketing function, to become a true end‑to‑end social media‑centric enterprise.
To do that, businesses need to plan, prepare and embed the right processes and frameworks; otherwise, they are bound to encounter operational risks, regulatory challenges and security threats on their journey.
The journey begins by assessing the degree to which social needs to be core to the business. Rather than just jumping on the social bandwagon, businesses should evaluate the business model, market dynamics, competitive landscape, customer base and global scale necessary to succeed with social to define the goals and objectives of their social media transformation program.
Before that, however, we suggest assessing the social media maturity of the organization by mapping it against a six‑level framework (see Figure 2). In order to assess social media maturity, businesses can use four lenses:
People view: What is the level of employee involvement and engagement on corporate social media profiles?
Tools and platform view: Does the organization use simple social publishing and reporting tools or does it apply advanced social media analytics and social commerce tools to drive revenue? Are these social tools integrated with other existing systems, such as the content management system (CMS), security systems and CRM systems?
Organizational view: How effectively does the enterprise leverage social media across various business functions?
Media view: How consistent is the organization's licensed content across paid, owned and earned media and how well does it adhere to brand guidelines in curated and user‑generated content? The overall enterprise presence throughout brand Web sites, blogs, social channels, microsites and forums also needs to be evaluated.
The next step is to establish an implementation roadmap. The most critical piece is establishing the right social media governance framework to guide and enforce the necessary workflows and processes, based on six focus areas:
Enterprise social strategy: The social strategy needs to define the level of social media integration and adoption across various business functions, recommending best practices and guidelines for the core processes of social media operations.
Governance team and organizational structure: An executive review committee comprised of cross‑functional domain experts needs to be formed to monitor the progress of the social media program and suggest changes in line with the evolving social landscape. An online reputation management and crisis team also needs to be set up, with a clear decision‑making mechanism to respond to social crises.
Technology and processes: A scalable, reliable, integrated social media management system must be developed to meet the move‑forward technological needs of the social media program.
Audit and reporting: Organizations should conduct regular audits, with periodic reports on the state of the social governance program to highlight the social governance index, response preparedness to online crises and the impact of the social program on organizational productivity and output.
Compliance and risk: The most important stakeholders in implementing a sound social media governance framework are the employees. Employee policies and processes should be disseminated not only via employee handbooks and social media guidelines, but also through workshops and training.
Social business ethics: A digital code of conduct needs to be established that spans all social media activities, aligns with the principles on which the brand's online business persona operates and feeds into employee social media guidelines.
Integration & Monitoring Stage
From here, the organization must percolate the defined social media governance framework and the six focus areas across the organization, along with periodic monitoring.
It is important to understand the audience from both an employee and customer standpoint and then tailor the messaging for inculcating a social media‑centric approach. The governance model should facilitate adequate checks and balances to flag deviations, while also allowing employees at all social media maturity levels to innovatively drive social initiatives that contribute to business benefits. It's also important for the entire organization to speak in one unified tone to create a consistent, compelling social experience for both customers and business partners.
In today's digital world, an organization that scales the summit of a truly social business enterprise ensures a solid competitive advantage. To get there, organizations should address the following questions:
What is the desirable state of social integration, given the organization's specific business model, customer base and competitive landscape?
In the rapidly evolving social media ecosystem, where should the enterprise invest its time and effort to create compelling experiences for internal and external stakeholders?
Is the social governance framework comprehensive enough to facilitate meaningful customer engagements while ensuring adequate checks and balances to identify and mitigate potential online crises?
What are some innovative ways that a heterogeneous employee base can be rallied toward the common goal of social media centricity, while factoring in their varying degrees of digital and social maturity?
Are robust monitoring and audit mechanisms in place to ensure that the social program maintains momentum and the organization keeps pace with the rapidly changing social media universe?
With these questions resolved, the enterprise can push forward from any point in its social media evolution to channel best practices and processes to its advantage.
For more examples and in‑depth process workflows, please read our whitepaper The Way to a True End‑to‑End Social Media‑Centric Enterprise. Visit Cognizant's Digital Marketing Services Practice for more.