Shifting Out of First: Focus on Business Challenges

As Dell has proven, some companies are successfully shifting out of first gear. The evolution of social business has moved well beyond the early Facebook marketing forays seeking “Likes.” Our study found that companies with more advanced social capabilities are turning to them to:

  • Understand market shifts (65% of respondents are planning to focus there to a great or large extent versus 14% for less socially mature companies),
  • Improve visibility into operations (45% versus 5%),
  • Identify internal talent or key contributors (45% versus 4%) and
  • Improve strategy development processes (60% versus 9%). (See Figure 7.)
Figure 7

View Exhibit

More mature social businesses use their social capabilities to address important business objectives.

Businesses are following their own paths by using social business solutions to address problems that matter and by measuring the results. In this section, we move from the state of play to state of the art — current examples of social business applications.

Marketing and Sales — A Sharper Edge

In our survey, respondents ranked sales second only to marketing as the functional area where social tools are used to a large or great extent. Social selling is becoming increasingly popular, and new tools are being developed to assist sales staff to use it in their work. However, social selling is about much more than using social media sites to generate leads.

We asked LinkedIn’s head of marketing for sales solutions, Ralf VonSosen, to elaborate on his company’s approach: “Social selling utilizes relationships and connections as well as insights that are available via social channels to facilitate a better selling and buying experience,” he says. “It’s really utilizing this fantastic social data to help us gain visibility and combine that with meaningful content we can share.”

The benefits of social selling are visible today. Consider the example of one global technology company we spoke with, which like many companies needs to sell more with less. Large enterprise sales are a complex matter in which sales people must make the case to decision makers and the myriad of influencers at the table. Traditionally, the process has been both costly and time consuming. To speed up the process and invigorate the quality of leads, this technology company developed a pilot program using LinkedIn’s social sales tool, Sales Navigator. With the tool, its sales professionals have access to all second- and third-degree connections of their fellow employees.


1. As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte Services LP, which are separate subsidiaries of Deloitte LLP. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

2. Pike Research: Social Media in the Utility Industry Consumer Survey, 2011 (Pike Research rebranded as Navigant Research in 2012).

3. McKinsey Global Institute: The Social Economy: Unlocking Value and Productivity through Social Technologies, July 2012

4. Forrester: The Four Social Marketing Tools You Need, February 25, 2013

5. Gartner: Agenda Overview for Social Software and Collaboration, 2013. January 2, 2013

6. Deloitte: U.S. State of the Media Democracy Survey, Seventh Edition, 2013

7. Gartner: Predicts 2013 Social and Collaboration Go Deeper and Wider, November 28, 2012

8. Dion Hinchcliffe interview with Robert Berkman, MIT Sloan Management Review, June 3, 2013. See:

9. In order to assess the impact of multiple variables at once, a regression analysis was used to identify statistically significant and practically meaningful adoption factors, that contributed to social business maturity.

10. LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index assesses a company’s activity on LinkedIn by measuring four areas: brand, reach, activity and contribution. Brand is measured based on the completeness of a company’s sales force profile. Reach is measured by the number of LinkedIn connections. Activity is measured by the number of searches and messages (InMails) sales professionals are executing and sending. Contribution is measured by the amount of content updates sales professionals are posting to LinkedIn.


12. Nielsen: Double Vision — Global Trends in Tablet and Smartphone Use While Watching TV, April 5, 2012

13. Nielsen: State of the Media Spring 2012 Advertising & Audiences, Part 2: By Demographic, April 27, 2012

14. David M. Gilfoil and Charles Jobs: Return on Investment for Social Media: A Proposed Framework for Understanding, Implementing, and Measuring the Return, Journal of Business & Economic Research, Vol. 10 No. 11, 2012.

15. Jason Miller: New metrics to help agencies determine value of social media, February 20, 2013.

16. Gartner: 2013 Social Marketing Survey Finding: Content Creation Fuels Social Marketing, March 25, 2013

17. (Accessed May 3, 2013)

18. Deloitte: Tech Trends 2013: Elements of postdigital, 2013

19. Punit Renjen: Lead or Be Left Behind: A Chairman’s Perspective on Social Media, Directors & Boards, First Quarter 2013.

i. John Hagel: Enterprises Still Honing Their Social Skills, February 1, 2013