Nearly two thirds of surveyed companies around the world find social business initiatives —including social media, social software, and social networks—are positively impacting their business outcomes, according to research by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte Consulting LLP.
The research found that the level of value companies achieve is related to their social business “maturity.”
The report, Moving Beyond Marketing: Generating Social Business Value Across the Enterprise, is based on a global survey of more than 4,800 business executives across 26 industries and 109 countries.
Respondents who rated their companies further along the social maturity scale were more likely to report their companies practice the following:
• Apply social business data in the decision making process: Nearly 80% analyze social data, and 67% integrate it into systems and processes to improve business decisions.
• Employ a leadership vision that social can bring about fundamental changes: More than 90% of respondents say their leaders believe it can create powerful and positive change.
• Infuse social business into multiple functions across the enterprise: 87% use social business to spur innovation.
One example illustrated in the report shows how the American Red Cross moved beyond consigning social to their communications unit. Instead, the organization infused and integrated social tools into the entirety of what the organization does.
When a young babysitter tweeted for advice after hearing reports that tornados were touching down in her area, her tweets were picked up by the American Red Cross digital command center in Washington, D.C. Within minutes, the disaster-relief organization responded with advice on how to remain safe and assurances that it was standing by to help.
“Sophisticated companies are increasingly integrating social across many aspects of the organization,” says David Kiron, executive editor for MIT Sloan Management Review. “Companies are taking a holistic view of how social can affect not only their marketing, but also internal communications, customer relations, and business operations.”
On the leadership issue, the survey found a strong relationship between visible senior leadership support and social business maturity. Maturing organizations are led by executives who believe in the potential of social business: 86% of respondents who are board members or C-suite level executives at maturing companies agree or strongly agree that social business represents an opportunity to fundamentally change the way their organization works.
“Visible C-suite leadership is absolutely crucial,” says Doug Palmer, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP and a co-author of the report. “But business leaders must be careful to balance top-down pressures with mechanisms that foster bottom-up creativity and ingenuity.”
Other study findings:
• Social business is perceived as important both today and in the future. Seventy three percent of this year’s survey respondents say social business is important or somewhat important today. Nearly 90% see its importance on a three-year horizon.
• Social business is not just a B-to-C phenomenon. Nearly 60% percent of B-to-B companies agree or strongly agree that social business initiatives are positively impacting business outcomes. Among B-to-C respondents, 68% agree.
• Employees want to work for companies that excel at social business. Fifty seven percent of respondents say that social business sophistication is at least somewhat important in their choice of employer. That attitude is consistent among respondents aged 22 to 52.