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Posted by Sean Corcoran on June 2, 2011
We've been working on a major piece of research to answer a fundamental question now affecting our clients: “How do companies change as they adopt social technologies?” Today, we’ve published 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 the newly updated paperback version of the Groundswell book. Staying true to the nature of the research, this was a collaborative effort involving analysts from all nineteen of the roles Forrester serves across Marketing & Strategy, IT, and the Technology Industry, but it was ultimately written to interactive marketers like you who are often on the front lines of social media for their organization.
So what did we learn? The biggest insight that came from this research is that, no matter what industry your company is in, what geographies you reside in, or what audience you’re targeting, large organizations tend to go through common stages of change as they adopt and use social technologies for business. We call this process of change “social maturity,” and we've outlined the steps to accelerate from one stage to the next. In fact, combining survey data of 95 respondents involved in social media at companies with more than 1,000 employees, interviews with more than 30 companies at all stages of maturity, and a wide range of existing research, we were able to plot each stage onto the following bell curve that reads right to left (you may recognize this model from the Diffusion Of Innovations theory):
Ultimately, we found that most companies fall within five stages:
So what does this all mean? Much of the hype around social media makes it sound as if you open a Facebook page or Twitter account and then you can shut down your advertising, turn off your company email, your customers and employees will then swoon, and marshmallows will fall from the sky. In reality, social media is still very nascent and it is a lot of work. But there is good news: Now you can identify your company’s current position on the bell curve and then build a plan for accelerating your company’s social maturity.