T.R.U.T.H and “Social Maturity”

Our friend at Forrester, Sean Corcoran, is at it again - helping us understand Interactive Marketing in relation to how other companies are doing it. His latest report Accelerating Your Social Maturity: How To Move From Social Experimentation To Business Transformation  provides insight for self-assessment and leveraging New Media, Social Media, Mobile, and the smartest of the bright-shiny Web services.

The simple point is Know Thyself

What you need to do next depends on where you REALLY are in your belief in, and resource commitment to, the Web. The most important step towards any business success is to acknowledge who you are, what is your value, and how much do you want to evolve into a "Social" enterprise that actually listens and reacts to the market.

Here at Creative Business Development (and through these EatMedia posts), we help  companies, organizations, and individuals determine their T.R.U.T.H - True Realization Under Total Honesty. No kidding, this is the hardest part... accepting what you are and what you are not.

I agree with Sean that most companies fall within five stages:
  • Laggards: the dormant stage. Forrester estimates that one in five companies is currently not using any social media. These companies tend to be highly conservative, heavily regulated, or just not interested (yes they exist; think non-tech B2B). To get beyond this stage, we recommend that interactive marketers help garner “small victories” – focusing on the best opportunities that can be used as case studies within the organization to get the ball rolling.
  • Late majority: the testing stage. While most companies are using social media, it tends to start organically in pockets. This stage can be described as “distributed chaos,” and to move beyond it, we recommend that a senior interactive marketer step up to play the role of “shepherd” to help coordinate efforts across the organization. (It’s important to note that this role is sometimes manifested in a “social media strategist” or similar, but it is not required, as many companies mature successfully through existing interactive marketing teams).
  • Early majority: the coordinating stage. At this point, management recognizes the risks and rewards of social media and begins to put the resources and governance in place to create consistency across the organization, from “distributed chaos” to a more centralized approach. To move beyond this stage, we recommend that interactive marketers work with a steering committee made up of key stakeholders to develop a foundation of shared resources, policies, processes, and budget in place for the long term so the focus can shift to optimizing results.
  • Early adopters: the scaling and optimizing stage. These leaders (think Starbucks, Best Buy, and Coca Cola) have already coordinated their social organization and are now focusing on optimizing their social media activities – from improved processes to more advanced metrics to integration with other marketing activity. The next big step for this group is to determine who within the organization is best suited for using social applications to solve customer problems (their HEROes) and for the shepherd to help lead the creation of a plan for empowering all relevant employees with social media.
  • Innovators: empowering their employees. At this stage, all relevant employees have been trained and empowered to use social media – essentially “organized distribution” – though centers of excellence are still needed. Only a few companies have even just entered this stage (think Zappos.com) but we expect many more to follow over the course of the next year.
Which are you? It doesn't matter if you are not as far along as you want to be (or your competitors are). We just need to be honest about where you are and want to go. Let's set the stage for your next most successful Marketing and Sales performance...