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Engaged a Little, a Lot, or Not – Measuring your Company’s ‘Social Maturity’

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Published: July 8, 2012

Is your company socially mature?

You have a Facebook account.  You send out a tweet every so often.  Maybe you’ve even connected with some of your clients on Linkedin.  But is that enough?  Does just having these social media sites set up make you socially mature?  Forrester Research doesn’t think so.

The DigitalEYE Media team thought we’d share the report Accelerating Your Social Maturity: How To Move From Social Experimentation To Business Transformation, which you can also find as a new chapter in Forrester’s newly updated paperback version of the Groundswell book.

According to Forrester, there are five different categories of “social maturity”—a measure of the extent to which your company is committed to utilizing social media channels in all marketing and branding efforts:

Laggards: the dormant stage

Late majority: the testing stage

Early majority: the coordinating stage

Early adopters: the scaling and optimizing stage

Innovators: empowering their employees

How socially mature is your company?  Let’s find out.

The defining characteristic of your social maturity is your openness to social technologies and the way in which you integrate them into your social strategy.

Laggards: the dormant stage

If you are “resistant to any use of social technologies due to unwillingness to participate” you are officially in the dormant stage of social maturity.

Late majority: the testing stage

If you have individuals within your team willing to engage in these social technologies you are in the testing stage.

Early majority: the coordinating stage

When management begins to engage all employees in these technologies, you have reached the coordinating stage.

Early adopters: the scaling and optimizing stage

Once everyone is onboard with these technologies you enter the scaling and optimizing stage.

Innovators: empowering their employees

Once you have completed all of these stages, you end in the empowering stage of social maturity where an “organization empowers all relevant employees by fostering and rewarding employees.”

So what does all of this matter?  Does everyone reach the empowering stage eventually?

Well, even if they do, it’s the pace at which a company reaches that level of social maturity that really counts.

Those who are in the dormant stage are what Forrester calls the “laggards” because they are far behind their competition and lack any type of social tools.

Most companies occupy the testing stage (“late majority”) and the coordinating stage (“early majority”)—the center of the bell curve.

The last two stages – “Early adopters: the scaling and optimizing stage” and “Innovators: empowering their employees”– are the sweet spot for companies.

Those in the scaling and optimizing state are the “early adopters who have built long-term plans to go along with an array of social applications.” Examples of these types of companies are Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Ford.  These types of companies focus on enhancing their social media use.

Finally, those in the empowering state are the innovators who “are on the verge of a breakthrough: empowering their full workforce to use social technologies to solve problems and make better decisions.”  Only a select few organization such as Dell and Zappos.com can be considered innovators.

So, where does your company fit on the chart?  How mature are you?