Social media is not only a benefit for marketing communications. Organizations have the opportunity to involve all stakeholders in an open digital environment.

Last spring, Brian Solis published his version of an organizations evolutionary arc in social media use. Solis, however, speaks more about what should be done and how, as opposed to why it should be done. I will try to give substance to his ideas to benefit business.

Stages of social transformation
Benefits of the stages:

1.Planning - “Listen & learn”

At this stage, you will learn what is being said online about the company and the industry in general. The most advanced organizations in this category may predict trends that will enable them to prepare, for example, to increase production. This is such an important part of exploiting social media that there are companies that focus solely on online discussion moderation and reporting to customers, for example the American company ListenLogic.

2.Presence - “Stake our claim”

This stage is the easiest. Create profiles etc. However, this is where some companies stop and think they have actually achieved something. Creating a profile without publication and engagement is like buying a new phone with a new number and waiting for someone to call you. You should be the one actively working to build you presence.

3. Engagement - “Dialog deepens relationship”

At this stage, the company will discuss with the various stakeholders, such as customers, suppliers, partners and its own employees. The company now has the opportunity to influence these stakeholders on a daily basis through continuous dialogue and through publication of their own view on their business and content related to their products or services.

4. Formalized - “Organize for scale”

The establishing of ground rules informs the whole staff that the company wishes that they start using social media. Borders bring freedom to work independently, where also, provenly, everybody has the courage to do things without fear of mistakes.

At this stage, the benefit is that a documentation this extensive also requires the determination of specific business objectives in order to measure success.

5.Strategic - “Become a social business”

At this stage, each department can begin exploiting social media. If, at this point, only sales and marketing have benefited from social media, now production, IT and finance can benefit from it. At this stage, everything is open. Production, sales, management and HR work together. Team work is working and the organization is able to operate more efficiently without walls between functions. Faster problem-solving abilities and the ability to move things forward more efficiently are definite business benefits.

6.Converged - “Social drives business”

At this stage, everything that the company does is social, openness is at the heart of the company, ie the complete transparency of operations.

Whether it be that you want to discuss with customers more efficiently, get more recognition or more discussion, increase the market share of a particular product or service category, get ideas for product development, or improve teamwork and reduce customer service costs, socializing is at the core of everything.

Think about what level your organization is currently operating at and if developing your current situation could possibly be beneficial. If you see opportunities, try them out. Congratulations and thank you for managing to read this much!