There are three primary stages of social maturity: emerging, evolving and mastering. Once you understand which stage best describes your company, you can begin determining next steps for advancement.
The emerging stage of social maturity involves individuals or siloed departments using social media with little-to-no oversight from management, and without an overarching, holistic strategy in place.
This level encompasses basic content publishing and audience engagement. Companies operating at this level may struggle with organizing and executing social strategies, as well as demonstrating ROI.
Laddering up from “emerging” to “evolving”
To move on to the evolving stage of social media maturity, companies at the emerging level should:
- Appoint a primary stakeholder who can oversee social efforts and coordinate individuals and teams, as well as act as a liaison between upper management and social practitioners.
- Establish clear business objectives related to social and craft detailed strategies to support specific goals.
- Create company social media policies that establish guidelines for common questions and concerns, such as content publishing responsibilities and reply time expectations.
- Educate all departments on the company’s social strategy, and include appropriate individuals in efforts to link social to overall marketing and customer care initiatives.
- Train teams on how to use social platforms in a way that aligns with business objectives, and empower them to achieve goals with the necessary budget, staff and tools.
- Determine which social metrics are relevant to business success and benchmark them against industry standards and competitors to ensure pertinent data is consistently captured and analyzed.
- Consider adopting a platform that centralizes publishing and engagement work across networks into a unified space.
The “evolving” stage of social maturity is when companies have made progress in synchronizing and supporting social strategy across different departments, and are now focused on scalability, integration and optimization. This level is characterized by targeted social campaigns, community management and the application of social insights throughout the company.
Making it to the “evolving” stage allows a company to provide experiences that support customer satisfaction across all their active social networks. This does more than just raise brand awareness—it can prevent churn, as well.
According to The Sprout Social Index™ 2022, 36% of consumers will discuss a negative social customer care experience with friends and family. A comparable 31% won’t complete their purchase, while 30% will buy from a competitor instead.
Businesses at this level typically have a strong grasp of social strategy fundamentals and are achieving some return in investment. However, they’re aware that there are more opportunities to maximize results.
Laddering up from “evolving” to “mastering”
To progress to the mastering stage, businesses at the evolving level should:
- Increase focus on social intelligence, moving beyond standard social metrics and demographics data to track online trends, conversations and sentiment.
- Use social data insights to inform larger marketing initiatives, as well as product, service and brand enhancement efforts.
- Cultivate relationships with social influencers and content creators through programs to drive organic interest, trust and loyalty.
- Encourage consumer advocacy through the use of user-generated content.
- Invest in necessary tools to determine the impact of social on bottom-line KPIs, such as sales leads and purchases, as well as the financial outcomes of social advertising.
- Empower experienced social users to share knowledge, advice and best practices through consistent training sessions and cross-team collaboration.
- Elevate brand awareness and social selling by leveraging employees with social advocacy programs and tools.
- Ensure social processes and workflows are properly integrated with existing systems and technologies.
- Boost performance of social media workflows through automated features, such as chatbots.
You’ve reached the “mastering” stage of social maturity when social is integrated at every level of a company, playing a primary role in sales, marketing, customer experience, communications, collaboration, research and data analysis.
Companies at this level possess a comfort with social and its application across teams and departments. Competitors and target audiences alike recognize the sophistication of the company’s social strategy.
If you’re looking for a company that consistently operates at the “mastering” stage of social, look no further than Grammarly. A quick scroll through their social profiles clearly showcases their commitment to experimenting with new formats and delivering on customer care.
This content is driven by a forward-thinking approach to social media reporting and listening. Grammarly uses Sprout’s social listening tools to monitor brand health and competitive share of voice. Since then, they’ve been able to extract even more product insights from priority platforms like Twitter and Reddit.
Maintaining your mastery
“Mastering” is a verb for a reason. It requires an ongoing commitment to maintain. Digital transformation is not a checkmark activity. It’s a moving goalpost that calls for constant innovation. To keep driving an excellent social media strategy forward, businesses must:
- Prioritize social innovation and employee contributions to processes, workflows and strategies.
- Remain up to date on emerging social technologies, channels, capabilities and use cases.
- Leverage social business intelligence strategically and continue improving performance measurement models through testing.
- Capture and analyze advanced metrics beyond bottom-line concerns, such as trending conversations, market movement and user attitudes.
- Take calculated risks on new social media use cases.
- Utilize social media management tools to their full capacity.
- Make continued education and training a company cornerstone.
- Proactively anticipate changes in social usage to stay on the cutting edge, drive efficiency and maximize benefits.
- Understand that social optimization is an ongoing process that will continue indefinitely but must always be relentlessly pursued.