A recent report by the Altimeter Group, "Social Business Readiness: How Advanced Companies Prepare Internally,” suggests a basic game plan for companies attempting to organize for social business.
The group conducted research into the best practices of companies deemed 'Advanced' in social business. It identified four initial steps the advanced companies had taken:
- Established and reinforced a corporate social media policy;
- Defined processes for rapid workflow and engagement with customers in social media;
- Fostered a culture of learning through ongoing social media education; and
- Organized in a scalable formation, with a cross-functional ‘center of excellence.’
The last point is an important one. The researchers found that 63% of the advanced companies organized their social media efforts in a ‘hub and spoke’ formation. The hub at the center provides business units with resources, leadership and education, allowing for both coordination and scalability.
Most of the advanced companies also maintained a ‘center of excellence’ — a dedicated, cross-functional team that led social efforts via strategy, training, measurement frameworks and vendor selection.
(The concept of a "center of excellence" was echoed in a recent talk by David Edelman of McKinsey & Company's global digital marketing strategy practice, at the annual conference of the Direct Marketing Association. Edelman endorsed centers of excellence as the best structure to provide innovation, technology direction, analytics and skill development.)
Readiness pays off. The report notes that advanced companies were much more likely to enjoy accountability, lowered risk, crisis-readiness, brand enhancement and scalability in the social sphere.