The time of table stakes and marketing-only social focus at organizations is over. Organizations who make bold investments in their employees and business through a sound social strategy and focused effort will differentiate themselves from their peers. Below are my five predictions for social business in 2015:
1. Leading Organizations Will Embrace The Social Moment - For Real This Time.
Leading organizations that believed in the promise of social for their brand and business, but experienced less than successful business results will refocus efforts. Social will become mainstream and integral to business success. Steps will be taken to:
empower a C-level stakeholder who is responsible for the social media program;
develop the social judgment of employees;
align efforts and budget in the direction of a coherent social strategy, company-wide and across departments;
and measure the progression of social results.
Leading influencers will not just come from external sources, but will also include internal social gurus. Employee advocates that become social experts in their sector such will drive brand influence. These unicorns who create and publish high value content and have strong social media skills will become highly coveted and will require stronger incentives to retain.
2. Meaningful Business Disruption and Differentiation Will Occur Through Social Experiences.
Social skills and capabilities will serve as a form of disruption that accelerates productivity, alongside the employee, to add value to the enterprise. Firms that view social not as an interruptive approach, but rather a productivity enhancer for the holistic organization – a skill set that provides acceleration for employees and activities – will derive the most value from social.
A great example of such a disruption is Uber, which spurred entrepreneurialism in a sector that was lead by old rules. Taxi drivers who once had to pay companies to drive can now access customers directly and enable communications and affect commerce in a seamless and mobile way. Internal organizational innovation will be derived as companies find new and meaningful ways to leverage social for their internal, customer and partner interactions.
3. Social Metrics Will Come of Age.
Social measurement varies across many of the social listening platforms. Some areas of measurement, such as engagement metrics, are starting to standardize across existing social channels while others are emerging such as internal metrics about the velocity of content sharing.
In 2015, standardization will occur in organizations to quantitatively understand achievement of goals across departments. Department level metrics and reporting will be normalized and aligned with executive dashboards as organizations mature. Allowances for evolution of the metrics and ways to measure will be required as tools and technologies improve. There will also be a need for frameworks to assess and measure employee social growth.
4. New Social Networks and Global Integration Will Occur.
LinkedIn is obviously the current, defacto B2B social network and evolving collaboration tool. However, there are specialized social networks that boast a lot of promise for curated audiences such as RallyPoint, whose audience is strictly current and retired military personnel.
The power of relevance will drive the growth of new social networks in much the same way as internal collaboration tools have enabled sharing around corporate, departmental and topical interests.
And, as innovation continues (by firms like Microsoft, who is working to eliminate the challenge of the language barrier by creating a Skype-based, instant translation engine in the next 1-2 years) the social effect at the regional and global scale will be significant.
5. Mobile Context Will be Mandatory.
It is a foregone conclusion that organizations have made the mobile mindshift. In the social sphere, ensuring that employees have mobile-enabled content development and publishing capabilities to share activities and insights is imperative. For example, providing insights in real time from a conference with peers or sharing a photo or video at a company event in a corporate collaboration platform will become the norm at leading organizations. Ensuring that employees can work in the manner in which they live – with a mobile device within an arm’s length of their person – is a must do.
As digital analyst Brian Solis points out, "While creating a social brand is a necessary endeavor, building a social business is an investment..." So, to keep things simple and actionable, it is well past time to start that blog you have been talking about!