Strategy, Policies and Guidelines

Altimeter Group’s six stage approach identifies the importance of aligning with business objectives, and ensuring business value is being created, in each stage.

Social Business Strategy and Social Media Strategy


A social media strategy lays out the channels, platforms, and tactics to support publishing, listening and engagement.

A social business strategy is the integration of social technologies and processes into business values, processes, and practices to build relationships and spark conversations inside and outside the organization, creating value and optimizing impact for customers and the business alike.

Altimeter’s definition of a Social Business Strategy: The set of visions, goals, plans, and resources that align social media initiatives with business objectives.

The most important criteria for a successful social business strategy are twofold: clear alignment with the strategic business goals of an organization AND organizational alignment and support that enables execution of that strategy.

The biggest cause of social strategy failure was the lack of alignment around business objectives.

Li, C. & Solis, B. (2013)

Throughout the above reading, there were two recurring themes identified as needing to be met to ensure the success of the social strategies:

  1. The importance of the strategies aligning with business objectives.
  2. The importance of organisational alignment to, and key executive support of, the strategies.

I’ve chosen to focus on the importance of the social business strategy and (by default as mentioned by Jeremy Scrivens “Social media strategy is a part of a Social Business Strategy – but not the other way around.”), the social media strategy needing to align with business objectives.

Stage 1: Planning

Using pilot programs to connect social media solutions to solving known business problems.

Stage 2: Presence

Whatever form the presence takes, ensure it will create business value by connecting to business objectives.

Stage 3: Engagement

Identify how to engage with customers in a way that impacts on speeding up their path to purchase, and in turn identifying which form of engagement will create the most business value.

Stage 4: Formalized

To minimise the risk of silos forming throughout the organisation when it comes to the coordination of social media processes and to ensure branding gaps are avoided, a coordinated approach to all social initiatives needs to be put in place. This will ensure all parts of the organisation are working towards the common objectives of the business.  This stage includes establishing the organisational wide governance, including policies, processes and training, to ensure all parts of the organisation follow a consistent approach.

Stage 5: Strategic

As part of this stage, the formation of a steering committee may take place. Part of the committee’s role is to ensure social media investments are aligned with business objectives.

Also part of this stage is integrating social operations out to business units and supporting social business initiatives specific to those units. This “… continues the journey to connect social with business goals by bringing the responsibility for social execution as close to the point of business value creation as possible.”  Li, C. & Solis, B. (2013).

Stage 6: Converged

Once convergence is achieved, a single business strategy process is put in place – there is no separate social business strategy. There is just one strategy which is one set of business objectives and outcomes.

Some of the challenges to implementing a successful Social Business strategy

Implementing a successful social business strategy could include challenging traditional organisational hierarchies, integrating the strategy into all parts of the business, moving away from just one team (traditionally the marketing team) having the responsibility for all things social. “…companies are benefitting from forming cross-functional steering groups … to broaden their enterprise-wide social capabilities.”  Weber, L.  (2011).


These cross-functional groups can be used to enhance collaboration between teams, and encourage communication between teams where traditionally, such collaboration and communication may not have occurred.


From an organisational perspective, this could constitute a major change in culture. The organisation’s management would need to be supportive of this cultural change and would need to embrace the change themselves – leading by example.  This too could represent a major cultural shift for the management team.  As noted in the Altimeter reading, only 52% of respondents agreed with the statement that “Top executives are informed, engaged, and aligned with our social strategy.”  And further that “Part of the challenge is that executives don’t understand social media’s potential for business impact – primarily because they have not experienced social media themselves.”


This could represent quite a challenge for more traditional management – they may need to change their style of management when it comes to social business and social media, including relaxing the more formal rules and adopting a more guiding style of leadership.


Pic from


Li, C. & Solis, B. (2013). The evolution of social business: Six stages of social business transformation. Altimeter Group. [online]

Weber, L. (2011). Building enterprise-wide engagement capability in Everywhere: Comprehensive digital business strategy for the social media era (pp. 59-86). Hoboken, NJ, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Jeremy Scrivens YouTube clip Co-creating social & digital business from Inside Out not Outside In




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