Five Stages of Social Engagement January 13, 2011 by Brett Prince As with any shift that an organization or brand chooses to initiate, the transition from exploratory thought to ‘social media enlightenment’ is an adoptive process. Let’s face it, not everyone jumps on board with new ideas, especially in a place of business. There is a lot of buzz around social media, most in the workplace may not ‘get it’, but there’s typically one person who is thrilled about the opportunity. Usually, it’s that person that gets the company involved in their own social media silo, sharing information with others whenever they can. And that’s the true beginning of The Journey. As the organization’s presence shifts into social media, the organizational structure shifts, as well. The Social Engagement Journey is a map to a social media transformation. By taking what Fortune 1000 companies have learned throughout their own processes and refinement, you can use this as a template for yourselves to help develop organization and implementation. THE SOCIAL PROCESS: PROGRESSION You need an usher. A passionate one. At the beginning of the process there needs to be someone in the organization who’s the catalyst. That person needs to be the one to excite others and get the ball rolling. As the process progresses, new elements will need to be introduced and measured, resulting in new members being added to the team. Despite the new additions to the social team, there still needs to be that singular person that pushes progression and inspires others to help ideas build and grow. Data is great, but you need numbers that show benefit to the business. Many businesses tend to focus on the core elements of social media: ‘conversation’ and ‘engagement’. But what it all comes back to is business sense. Those elements are an important part of any social strategy, but when you step back and look at how it’s affecting the business, you need to be able to report costs. If you’re a corporation, you may need to report to investors, stock holders, employees, customers, vendors, and other share holders that may be invested. Engagement and conversation aren’t any less important, but let’s face it, the bottom line is too! If you want your business to invest in a new idea, you have to be able to show how it will benefit the business. First you need to define goals; benefits will differ for each organization. It could mean getting meaningful product feedback, it could mean reducing costs and improving customer service scores, and if you’re lucky enough, it could mean increased sales revenue. Whatever it means for your business, create a plan with expected outcomes. Be sure to fortify your plan with all the data you’re collecting along the way. Remember, you can only advocate for things you can prove! It takes a champion from above. Everyone in an organization has the ability, and some may argue, the responsibility to champion a good idea that can add value and transform the business in some positive fashion. Like all great ideas, they will need to ascend, and in order for that to happen there needs to be adoption from someone in the upper echelon of the company. High level support will help the idea reach full potential and truly benefit the organization. In the Social Engagement Journey, we see this happening at levels 4 and 5. Stage 5 is by far the most integrated and robust model. This is where we can see business outcomes becoming truly inspiring. This social engagement map is meant for you to step back and figure out exactly where you and your organization stand. By looking at different aspects you can get a feel for which level you’re at, the potential for growth and success, and what you need to do to get to the next level! Have you adopted a social media strategy? What stage is your company in?