The Seven Success Factors of Social Business Strategy [INFOGRAPHIC] | Vala Afshar

The Seven Success Factors of Social Business Strategy [INFOGRAPHIC] | Vala Afshar.

Vala Afshar

2013-07-30-57797Infographic.jpg

Houston, we have a problem – a social business strategy problem.

The era of social networking started in the early 2000s with the launch of Friendster. In fact we can argue that there were renditions of social networking even before that –from Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) to CompuServe, Prodigy, and AOL. Yet even though we have had some form of social networking since the advent of the networked ecosystem, most companies today are still challenged with successful social business transformational initiatives.

A recent survey by Altimeter of nearly 700 social media professionals yielded that:

  • Only 34% of businesses feel that their social strategy is connected to business outcomes.
  • Just 28% of companies feel that they have a holistic approach to social media, where lines of business and business functions work together under a common vision.
  • A mere 12% are confident they have a plan that looks beyond the next year.
  • Only half said that top executives were “informed, engaged and aligned with their companies’ social strategy.”


As a CMO and an active user of social media, I am stumped at how the industry still treats social as an experiment. Majority of businesses using social media today have few clear connections between their social activities and business goals. Social media metrics, if they exist, focus instead on engagement activity metrics like ‘likes’ and ‘follows’ and not the actual business value creation like revenue, brand reputation or cost reduction.

Another trait commonly observed in the industry is that most social media strategists focus solely on the external social media. What is missing is a holistic strategy that incorporates both external and internal facets and focuses on translating business objectives into socially adept interactions.

Time is now to get serious about social and this is precisely what authors and technology analysts Charlene Li and Brian Solis have addressed in their latest publication, “The Seven Success Factors of Social Business Strategy“. The e-book focuses on factors that enable executives and strategists all across to develop and execute on a holistic social business strategy.

The e-book is an easy and insightful read that provides practical advice. You will learn how to define your social strategy, gain alignment across the business, and use said strategy to support business goals. Li and Solis also focus their findings and recommendations on how to convince and rally decision makers at the executive level, with both considered practices and mistakes to avoid.

Without further ado, here are the 7 key factors that impact the success of your social business strategy.

1) Define business goals

Figure out your business objectives. It is imperative that your strategy be built around your business goals. Starting off on the right foot means defining goals up front and ensuring that stakeholders at different levels and across departments are aligned towards those goals.

The second step is to define key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics that go beyond engagement data sets. For example, take likes, comments, re-tweets, reach, views and the alike, and map these to tangible business outcomes such as revenue generation, brand reputation and cost savings.

Bonus points for teams that can start correlating sentiment and share of voice in social media against business impact on revenue, support and retention.


2) Establish a long-term vision

There is tremendous advantage in knowing where we are going. It’s not just enough to have goals in place; you also need to have a long term vision that communicates to everyone within the organization on why this journey is taking place and the value it brings.

It is imperative to define this vision for future employees, customers, and partner relationships and social experiences that will come about as a result of this holistic strategy. It provides a direction and a purpose to every stakeholder. In order to establish a vision,social executives must understand their role in a social business.


3) Ensure executive alignment and support

Executive support is imperative to the establishment and on-going execution of a social business strategy. Social often exists in its own marketing silo. But at some point, business collaboration must extend beyond marketing or social customer care and pervasively reach throughout the entire ecosystem. When every voice is heard in the seams of the organizational fabric, you have achieved a holistic adoption of social. Executive sponsorship is necessary to do this, and to also align collaboration with tangible business objectives.

Additionally, speaking the language that matters to executives is the only way to ensuring program support, therefore allowing sustainable budget and resources to scale social within the organization. I recently wrote about the importance of social executive support.


4) Define the strategy roadmap and associated initiatives

Once you have your vision and you are in alignment on your business goals, you need a detailed plan that outlines each step required to build your social business. Ideally, it should outline the next 3 years with focus on initiatives that one can execute in a proficient manner immediately, along with prioritization based on business value.


5) Establish governance and guidelines

Develop one coherent social governance model that outlines and defines stakeholders that are responsible for the strategy, management and development of an infrastructure to support your social business strategy.

Ideally, a corporate hub is established by the social media strategist with representation from each business unit to initiate enterprise priorities, guidelines and processes along with specific roles and responsibilities. One should also invest in formation of a Social Media Center of Excellence (CoE) which ensures a systematic strategy and allows sustainable scalability across the organization.


6) Secure staff, resources and funding

The most important aspect of a successful social business strategy is talent. It is important to get the right people with the right mindset onto the core team to make this work. Determine where resources are best applied in the present and the future. Ideally, your corporate strategist and their teams should have proficient background in dealing with emergent technologies and approaches.

Think deep about your strategic relationships across your agency, vendor and partner networks. It is recommended and perfectly fine to rely on capable external partners in the initial phases when marketing efforts are being amplified and internal skills are limited.

As a CMO, I am more interested in my talent’s ability to adapt and forecast the future working models than their ability to sell me their traditional past successes. Invest in the ability to train your staff on vision, purpose and business value creation along with an appropriate metrics/reporting structure to ensure a uniform approach across the business.


7) Invest in technology platforms that evolve

Avoid the shiny object syndrome that is often seen in marketing departments all across the industry. Avoid new technologies and investment in the latest tactics prior to having a coherent and a holistic social business strategy, roadmap and alignment in place. Often times, technology choices of yesteryear don’t scale well into the future state of a social business. Smart executives and strategists always pick technology last.


One way of tackling this issue is to align with technology vendors who share their product roadmaps with you so that one can easily evaluate if they will meet your organization’s future state.

Enterprise social is often misunderstood by the masses as an easy, simple, in the moment kind of an activity. Fortunately for us, Solis and Li have done a great job in explaining the intricacies of enterprise social business and provide a heartfelt read on tackling the issues that we are all facing in this industry.

In the noisy world of social media publications, this is a refreshing and an informative read. I highly recommend that all business executives, especially CEOs, CMOs, CHROs, CCOs, and CIOs to consider reading “The Seven Success Factors of Social Business Strategy“.

BBC Presentation – Future of TV – Orchestrated Media – New Gatekeepers in the Living Room Means More Disruption (Or Democratisation) of TV Industry

Gartner Hype Cycle for CRM Sales, 2012: Sales Turns to the Cloud for Quick Relief – Forbes

Gartner Hype Cycle for CRM Sales, 2012: Sales Turns to the Cloud for Quick Relief – Forbes.

Sales VPs for years have been test-driving SaaS-based CRM systems, piloting them with sales teams to see if using them leads to higher sales and greater customer retention.  Marketing VPs and Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) also continue to pilot SaaS-based web analytics and marketing automation applications.

What’s been missing from these pilots is the ability to bring CRM, marketing automation, sales management and web analytics systems into existing enterprise IT architectures just as fast.  This is changing quickly.  CRM vendors have been quick to respond to the challenge, offering Application Programmer Interfaces (APIs), integration adapters, connectors and from larger vendors, integrated bus architectures.

What the Hype Cycle for CRM Sales, 2012 Means

CRM’s real value is in unifying an entire enterprise based on its ability to sell, serve and retain customers better than before. Gartner shows this is a high priority for its CRM clients by underscoring which technology and application areas of the hype cycle are responding to his market dynamic, and which aren’t.

This Hype Cycle also reflects the urgency I hear from Sales VPs who want to get in control of the complex compensation, quota, territory management, job appraisal and sales coaching responsibilities they have.  While each of these areas is essential, many companies, even those in enterprise software, have ignored these areas, allowing them to stay manually based. Gartner calls this area Sales Performance Management (SPM) and shows it has the highest benefit of all SaaS-based sales management applications in the next two years. Gartner’s analysis captures the time shortage that Sales VPs I know are facing; they have to get to high quota levels while also managing a diverse set of leadership responsibilities as well. The Hype Cycle for CRM Sales, 2012 (G00234919) is shown below:

  • Gartner estimates 35% of all CRM implementations today use SaaS, growing to over 50% by 2020 according to their projections. In 2011, more than $5 billion was invested in sales applications.
  • Cloud adoption varies significantly across CRM software categories with Web analytics achieving 95% adoption, Sales Force Automation achieving just over 50%, and Configure Price Quote (CPQ) achieving 40%.  Cloud-based Sales Performance Management has the highest compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of any CRM category according to inquiry and client calls.
  • Sales, Customer Service, Social CRM and Marketing are the four fastest-growing areas of enterprise Sales applications on SaaS.  Campaign Management is increasingly quickly, up from 19% using SaaS in 2010 to 29% in 2011.
  • Gartner sees significant growth in Configure Price Quote (CPQ), projecting a market of $300M in 2012, up from $240M in 2011.  Gartner is due out with a MarketScope on CPQ shortly, where the 15 major vendors it tracks in this area will be ranked.  40% of existing implementations are on SaaS, and that proportion is increasing relative to licensed versions.  Of the 15 vendors in this market, 12 have announced SaaS-based versions of their applications.
  • There are 3.8M Sales Force Automation SaaS users globally today.
  • By 2017, 25% of companies adopting CRM will have extended their customer service contact centers to include social media includingFacebook, Twitter and other emerging online communities.  As of 2012, Gartner is seeking only 1% of companies integrate social media into their companies’ departments and work flows to ensure a consistent customer experience.
  • Price Optimization will experience transformational growth in two to five years. Gartner sees this area as one of the most promising across all CRM Sales as can be seen in the Priority Matrix for CRM Sales 2012 below from the Hype Cycle for CRM Sales, 2012.  The research firm has defined this market as including price analysis, price optimization and price execution.  Gartner estimates this market was $180M to $190M in 2010.  Vendor competing in this market include Accenture, Deloitte, Pros, Vendavo, Vistaar Technologies and Zilliant.

  • Social CRM (SCRM) for Sales is at the Peak of Inflated Expectations, with 90% of spending for these applications being generated from B2C companies.  Gartner expects B2B companies to lead the growth of these applications through 2015, increasing spending from 5% of total SCRM sales in 2011 to 30% by 2015.
  • SaaS-based CRM sales within enterprises are expected to reach $4.48B in 2012, growing to $6.3B in 2015.  The following table from the report Forecast: Software as a Service, Worldwide 2010-2015, 2H11 Update provides a frame of reference for SaaS-based CRM growth overall.
  • Salesforce leads all CRM vendors in market share growth, advancing 2.8% from 2010 to 2011 according to Gartner’s’ global market share analysis shown below. Salesforce attained 26.9% revenue growth from 2010 to 2011 ($1.3B to $1.6B) and 36.7% growth from 2011 to 2012 ($1.6B to $2.27B).  The future momentum of Salesforce is in unifying the enterprise, redefining corporate IT in the context of the customer. Their recent acquisitions show analytics, marketing automation and development platforms are key priorities.  The following table is from the report Market Share Snapshot: CRM Software, 2011 (G00233998).


Bottom line:  Making CRM strategies successful has to start with a common vision and urgency for results.  Both are happening quicker in CRM than ever before, driven by a much clearer understanding of what enterprises need to more effectively attain their goals.

PSFK presents Future of Retail Report 2012