Posted 02.19.2021 by Josh Krakauer

The Social Media Marketing Maturity Model: A Guide To All 6 Levels

The social media marketing maturity model evaluates your brand’s strategic use of social media, benchmarks against peers, and identifies opportunities for growth. Here's how it works.

Let’s be mature about this.

If there’s one common bond among social media marketers, it’s a dissatisfaction with the current, and an obsession with the “next.”

We love to level up.

And we seek out every example, best practice, and quick win we can get our hands on.

But there’s a problem. Social media advice for one brand doesn’t necessarily translate well for another.

Why? Because we’re starting from different places. When you hear a success story, you’re often left without background like:

How established was their team? How bought-in was their CEO? How much money were they spending to stay in front?

This context is essential, and that’s exactly what a social media maturity model provides.

What is a social media maturity model?

A social media maturity model is a tool for assessing your organization’s adoption of social media marketing. It level sets your organization against others using a few key attributes.

To develop a model that works for teams in 2021, we surveyed in-house marketers, analyzed dozens of companies, evaluated 100+ past clients, and plotted out the recurring themes.

We discovered 15 main attributes that establish an organization’s social media maturity.

(And company size wasn’t one of them.)

Is your social media program early, middle-of-the-pack, or best-in-class.

Let’s find out.

There are 4 main reasons to adopt the social media maturity model:

  1. Get everyone on the same page about your current health and status.
  2. Justify more investment by comparing budgets and benchmarks.
  3. Frame recommendations in the context of leveling up.
  4. Set a clear vision and concrete goals for growth.

How to use the social media maturity model

The social media maturity model is an assessment and planning tool. You can use it in 3 main ways:

  1. Inventory your current state: Where do you stand across the 15 key dimensions? Audits can be overwhelming, this gives you a clear place to start.
  2. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses: Where are you set up for success? Where are you still learning?
  3. Inform your recommendations: What does success look like in the short, medium, and long term? What are specific tactical steps you can take to get better results and advance your team?

There’s a lot of info packed into this post, so here’s a table of contents to help you find what you need:

Ready to get into it?

Overview of the Social Media Maturity Model Framework

Running your brand’s social media program is like orchestrating a theatrical production: it takes a team of talented, creative professionals to keep all the moving parts in order and make every performance a success.

And like a stage production, social media teams come in all shapes, sizes, and budgets. The larger the production, the higher the stakes and the more specialized support you need.

The good news is that you get to decide what role you want your brand to play on this grand stage. You just need the knowledge and tools to level up.

Speaking of levels, we’ve identified six main levels of social media marketing maturity.

Here’s the breakdown 👇

image

L0 - Claimed and Waiting

You’re new to the social media scene.

You don’t have an active presence on social media, but you may have established a basic footprint. Social media growth is on your radar.

image

L1 - Active and Inconsistent

You have profiles on social media but you don’t have an active presence. You’ll post when you have time or inspiration strikes you.

You don’t have a cohesive social media marketing strategy in place or a support team.

image

L2 - Measured and Maintained

You understand the importance of social media and try to post consistently on a few social media channels, but your content doesn’t quite feel purposeful.

You’re not getting the results you want.

image

L3 - Growing and Integrated

You have a cohesive social media strategy in place and a support team to help integrate sales with marketing. You’re consistently posting on a few social media channels and have established your brand voice.

Your customer support team is doing an A+ job on social media, too and you’ve built a good rapport with your audience. Your sales and marketing teams are aligned and working together to boost conversions.

image

L4 - Leading and Responsive

You’re at the top of your social media game. Social media is an indispensable part of your company strategy.

Beyond the active profiles on leading social media platforms, you’re experimenting with new social channels. Your robust marketing team heads up campaigns integrated and aligned across multiple departments to meet company-wide goals.

image

L5 - Innovating and Defining Standards

Your social media is tightly integrated with customer service, marketing, product, and sales, and all departments are closely aligned with each other.

You have multiple active accounts on each platform and you’re constantly experimenting with out-there content ideas. Your  innovative approach to social has earned your brand plenty of fans and maybe (ok, definitely) some haters. You’re redefining the standard for other brand and changing the game, one fleet at a time.

take the social media maturity quiz

Ready to level up your social media program? Find out where you stand across the 15 most important attributes.

take the quiz

The 15 Social Media Maturity Attributes:

Now that you’ve got an idea of the different levels, let’s talk about what we’re measuring to determine that. The maturity model frames your social media program across two main dimensions: people and execution.

People: Team & Culture

To understand the characteristics of the highest-performing brands on social media, we need to look at the people that make up those brands.

  • What is the culture that enables agile content?
  • How aligned is marketing with customer experience?
  • What does the senior leadership team think of social media?

1) Marketing Team Structure

Your organization’s social media maturity is linked to your organization’s overall marketing maturity. Here’s a breakdown of the typical marketing team orientation for each stage of the social media marketing maturity map.

  • Level 0: Your marketing team consists of 1 part-time person, generally an owner, intern, or assistant.
  • Level 1: Your marketing team consists of 1.5 full-time generalist marketers, doing it all.
  • Level 2: Your marketing team consists of 1-3 full-time specialists and a Marketing Manager.
  • Level 3: Your marketing team consists of about 3-5 full-time functional specialists and a Head of Marketing.
  • Level 4: Your senior marketing leadership oversees 6+ team members organized by region, industry, or funnel focus.
  • Level 5: Your marketing team consists of executive-level marketing leadership, a centralized team for key channels & functions, regional teams, and dedicated marketers embedded in other departments.

2) Social Media Team Structure

Who owns social within your company? Most social media managers function as a team of one with a small team of contributors to collaborate with for support.

Here’s what that team might look like at each of the different levels of social media maturity.

  • Level 0: No one ‘owns’ social media.
  • Level 1: Social is just one of several things an internal/external resource handles.
  • Level 2: Social media is a dedicated part-time role or accounts for about 50%+ of a full-time marketer’s focus.
  • Level 3: You have 1-2 dedicated full-time social media managers and part-time support of specialists.
  • Level 4: You have at least 1 social media leadership role and 1-4 full-time marketers dedicated to implementation.
  • Level 5: You have 5+ full-time marketers dedicated to social media strategy and implementation across geos, functions, products, or another orientation.

Wondering how to level up your social media marketing team? Hiring is the gap, and there’s no way around it.

3) Departments Involved With Social Media

Every organization faces the question of, “which department will own social media?”

In most cases, it starts as a function of marketing and comms. As the organization grows and program matures, social media will support a wider ranger of campaigns and initiatives across the enterprise. The more of these departments that are linked by process and team, the more mature you can call your program.

Examples of those departments include:

  1. Brand/Marketing/Comms
  2. Demand Gen/Growth
  3. Sales
  4. Talent/Recruitment
  5. CX/Customer Care
  6. Product R&D and/or Innovation

For a department to count as part of the social media program an internal representative for that function should have some level of involvement in planning, reporting, or budgeting.

4) Alignment With CS/CX

Your audience demands seamless customer service and experience on social media. After all, 83% of people expect companies to respond to their complaints within a day. But 49% never get a response to their social media complaint at all.

From replying to queries ASAP to creating a personalized experience for them on social, excellent customer service can make or break a business. The more strongly aligned your marketing team is with the customer service department, the more social media mature your organization is.

Let’s take a look at how organizations behave at different social maturity levels.

  • Level 0: They don’t reply to most queries, either because they aren’t on that channel or aren’t monitoring for questions and complaints.
  • Level 1: They reply as soon as they see the comment or message notification, ad hoc.
  • Level 2: A part-time team member monitors brand mentions and there’s a formal process in place for responding to queries and escalation.
  • Level 3: Customer service reps reply to queries directly from the social media accounts. This rep shares an integrated tool with multiple departments that connects to a CRM.
  • Level 4: They have dedicated support channels and measure customer support metrics regularly to improve speed and efficiency.
  • Level 5: They have a dedicated customer service team for monitoring and replying customer queries around the clock.

5) Alignment With Sales

According to Sirius Decisions, companies that align sales and marketing teams achieve 24% faster growth rates and 27% faster profit growth.

Today, customers want a seamless transition from learning about your business on social media to purchasing – and that is what high performing brands on social media are working towards. Misalignment of sales and marketing teams can cost B2B companies 10% of revenue each year.

The more in sync your marketing and sales departments are, the more mature your brand’s social media program likely is.

So, where do different organizations stand on the social media marketing maturity scale with respect to sales alignment?

  • Level 0: They’re not using social media to drive sales.
  • Level 1: They manually flag and forward opportunities and contacts to sales as they appear.
  • Level 2: Their internal team has established measurable sales goals on social media and has an SLA in place. Sales and marketing team members conduct quarterly meetings to collaborate on lead generation goals. They’ve invested in a CRM software to help align the two teams.
  • Level 3: They’re starting to invest in paid social media advertisements to generate leads and drive revenue. Their marketing team creates content for their sales funnel and collaborates with the sales team to conduct lead generation campaigns and events.
  • Level 4: Their marketing team uses paid social media advertising to target high-potential leads and efficiently scale up. They have a solid social media marketing sales funnel in place and their team creates content accordingly to guide potential customers through the funnel and convert them.
  • Level 5: They have a library of tools, content, and assets to help their marketing and sales team efficiently collaborate with each other, market to high-potential leads, and close more deals seamlessly.

6) Leadership Views and Beliefs on Social Media

Social media has the power to influence relationships between leaders and employees, tip the budget scales, and contribute to building and shaping the right brand image of an organization. Here’s how important different organizations consider leadership views on social media.

  • Level 0: They don’t consider it important at all. It’s the new marketing fad.
  • Level 1: They’re interested in social media, but would like to spend their time and efforts in pursuing other marketing channels that show proven results.
  • Level 2: They’re supportive of small investments in social media and testing the paid advertisement waters to see if it works for their organization in the short term.
  • Level 3: They understand the importance of social media marketing and see the long term potential of it. Because of this, they’ve recently increased their social media marketing budget, as well.
  • Level 4: They believe social media is an important part of their organization’s marketing strategy and integral for brand growth and its differentiation.
  • Level 5: They believe it’s a strategic business function, a source of customer intelligence, and they’ve invested sufficient resources to achieve a competitive advantage.

7) Executive Social Strategy

From C-suite to first line management, senior leadership needs to play a proactive role in embracing social media and building their own presence online.

As Richard Branson rightly said, “Embracing social media isn’t just a bit of fun, it’s a vital way to communicate, keep your ear to the ground and improve your business.”

Let’s take a look at different organizations’ executive social media strategies.

  • Level 0: They have no real understanding of social media and generally stay off.
  • Level 1: They have profiles on main social platforms and occasionally share brand related content.
  • Level 2: Senior executives share company content regularly and lend their voice, face, and/or words to add credibility in campaigns.
  • Level 3: They’re fond of sharing personal and company content actively on at least 1 channel, and contribute to campaigns.
  • Level 4: Senior leadership is proactive on social media. They’ve built their own personal brands and audiences on social media, which contribute to the growth of their organization.
  • Level 5: Execs are regarded as industry thought leaders; the company financially supports their reach and benefits from it massively.

Execution: Strategy & Tactical Execution

For an organization to efficiently scale up, they need to have a solid social media marketing strategy in place and tools to effectively execute it. That is what gives brands an edge over others on social media.

8) Social Media Tools and Technology

Executing a successful social media strategy requires investment in your social media tech stack. The more streamlined your process, the easier it is for you to scale output and elevate your impact.

However, not all organizations fully understand the importance of social media tools, especially when starting out. Let’s review how organizations progress up the social media tech maturity ladder.

What do you use technology to accomplish?

  • Level 0: You don’t invest in any social media marketing tools.
  • Level 1: You use social media tools for basic social media tasks such as scheduling and publishing posts.
  • Level 2: You use tools to optimize workflow, streamline back-end processes, and conduct basic social listening.
  • Level 3: You use social media tools for managing platform-specific content and approvals, better analyzing and reporting data, and improving results from paid social (ad testing and optimization).
  • Level 4: You use a more sophisticated social suite to manage everything in one place, from replying to queries and optimizing platform-specific content, to analyzing customer data and managing employee advocacy.
  • Level 5: You use best-in-class social media tools, and build your own solutions where gaps exist. Your social media tools likely help you benchmark competitors, analyze trends, predict performance, analyze ROI, leverage first-party data, manage a large volume of branded assets, and arm team members with the right level of access and information.

9) Content Production and Publishing

Different social platforms require different types of content. What works on Facebook Pages will not perform the same on TikTok. And organizations that publish targeted and personalized content consistently are able to scale and grow faster.

Here’s how an organization’s social media content strategy evolves:

  • Level 0: You rarely post content on social media profiles.
  • Level 1: You post content on social media on an ad-hoc basis.
  • Level 2: You create an editorial content with consistent themes and stick to it. You also plan your posts a week in advance.
  • Level 3: You post customized content for each social media channel regularly in different formats. You invest in original, social-first video assets for campaigns or ongoing series. You create branded templates that non-designer employees in the organization can use with ease. You also have an established visual style guide for creative direction. You create social media campaigns with multiple departments coordinating on them.
  • Level 4: You dedicate at least 1 creative resource for planned and responsive social media content. You also have an extensive content library at hand to pull approved shots for various social media campaigns and have implemented an employee advocacy program.
  • Level 5: Along with doing all the above, you also set aside budget for large-scale photo/video shoots, content atomization, influencers/UGC at scale, and next-generation formats.

10) Channel Activity Level

As social media has become integrated in our lives, brands that consistently show up in our day-to-day see incredible results.

Let’s take a look at channel behavior for different social media maturity levels.

  • Level 0: You have profiles on social media platforms, but are largely inactive on them.
  • Level 1: You are active on 2-3 social media platforms, and post at least once a month or so.
  • Level 2: You post weekly content on 2-3 social media platforms and boost posts for more reach and conversions.
  • Level 3: You post several times a week on 2 to 3 social platforms and invest in regular paid amplification on 1-2 platforms.
  • Level 4: You are daily active on at least~4 social media channels with content and paid campaigns personalized for each. You also test emerging social platforms on a monthly basis.
  • Level 5: You are daily active on 5 or more social platforms with a sophisticated blend of paid and organic content personalized for each. You have multiple accounts on your primary social platforms, such as a brand account for different regions or customer support. You are always experimenting with at least 2 emerging platforms at a time.

11) Community Management and Listening

Brands with massive following and an active presence on social media track, analyze, and monitor conversations diligently. This is why their content’s always on point, they’re constantly engaging with their following, and customer queries are answered instantly.

According to Sprout Social, 83% of users like when brands respond to questions, and 68% like when brands join conversations. Here’s how important social listening is to brands on different social media maturity levels.

  • Level 0: You don’t do anything to manage your social media community or monitor and analyze brand mentions.
  • Level 1: You reply to brand mentions only when your audience tags you on social media.
  • Level 2: You regularly listen for tagged and untagged brand mentions to engage with your community.
  • Level 3: You monitor brand mentions on a daily basis. You also regularly participate in trending conversations on social media platforms.
  • Level 4: You team listens for a number of different brand mentions every day on each social media platform. You also built a good rapport with brands and influencers in your niche, and regularly participate in trending social conversations.
  • Level 5: You don’t just wait for trends, you create them, and others follow. You invest in deep social listening tools to map customer preference and feed intelligence back to inform product development.

12) Measuring Impact with Data/Analysis

One of the biggest mistakes an organization can make is investing time and effort into social media marketing, but not tracking the results. And this is what sets successful brands apart from the not-so successful ones. They’re constantly testing their campaigns, tracking results, and optimizing their social media campaigns.

How do different brands track social media data?

  • Level 0: You don’t track your data at all.
  • Level 1: You track… somewhat. You measure social based on activity, and review auto-generated reports.
  • Level 2: You pull insights quarterly, track metrics monthly, and analyze campaign recap reports as a marketing team.
  • Level 3: You track your KPIs constantly. You monitor paid social activities daily, track KPIs weekly, and analyze social channel reports monthly. Your social media performance is tied to measurable goals and ROI, and you have invested in dashboards that visualize all of this data.
  • Level 4: You measure everything, from brand metrics and customer sentiment, to campaign attribution. You’ve also integrated social media data into business intelligence systems to gain invaluable insights from it.
  • Level 5: Your reporting is integrated with first party data (i.e., data directly from consumers), and you invest in third-party brand and conversion studies to attribute ROI from big campaign investments.

13) Budgeting for Social Media

An organization’s social media marketing strategy needs to be backed by a budget that encompasses tools, content creation, paid ad spend, and other outsourced or in-house expenses.

According to a survey by CMO, social media budgets are expected to rise 73% over the next 5 years.

Here’s how different brands budget for social as they level up on the social media maturity map.

  • Level 0: You haven’t started spending on social yet.
  • Level 1: You have a small ad hoc budget which You use when need arises.
  • Level 2: You set a fixed annual budget for social and also approve ad hoc expenses.
  • Level 3: You have an annual social budget and a percentage of total paid media budget that may be revised based on ROI.
  • Level 4: You set a centralized social media and ad budget. You also receive a percentage of the budget from supported campaigns and initiatives.
  • Level 5: You not only have a central budget for social media, but also separate budgets for individual departments, products, brands, and key business initiatives.

14) Role of Paid Social in Organization

Social ad spending was predicted to increase by approximately 20% in 2020, bringing it to around $43 billion USD. More and more organizations are recognizing the need to invest in paid social.

And why shouldn’t they.

Steep competition, a large user base, and sophisticated algorithms on social platforms means that relying on organic alone just isn’t an option.

Let’s discuss what role paid social plays in organizations at different social maturity levels.

  • Level 0: You don’t advertise on social media at all.
  • Level 1: You boost a few posts here and there, and spend some money ad hoc on social ads.
  • Level 2: You run low-budget, short-window paid campaigns on social media to increase conversions and gather a baseline.
  • Level 3: Using iterative testing, you start investing more in social channels that are driving revenue. You also strategically boost organic posts and content to drive awareness and top-of-the-funnel traffic.
  • Level 4: You are scaling up brand reach and conversion volume substantially and manage dedicated campaigns across multiple social channels.
  • Level 5: You manage both brand awareness media buys and performance-oriented, sales activation campaigns at scale for key markets, brands, products, and initiatives.

15) Annual Paid Social Spend

An organization’s annual paid spend indicates how effective their paid social advertising is and how much they value it. The higher an organization’s annual paid social spend, the more likely they know how to convert it into revenue (we’d hope).

Let’s break down different social media maturity stages with regards to annual paid social spend.

  • Level 0: You haven’t spent anything on paid social advertising yet.
  • Level 1: You spend under $10k on paid social annually.
  • Level 2: You spend between $10k to 50K on paid social annually.
  • Level 3: You spend $50k to $250k on paid social annually.
  • Level 4: You spend up to $1M on paid social annually.
  • Level 5: You spend over $1M on paid social annually.

How To Level Up Your Social Media Marketing Maturity

What’s your organization missing, and how can it level up?

Here are the biggest sticking points for moving between levels 👇

Level 0 to Level 1
You’re not sure where to start. Which platforms should you focus on? How do you go about it? You’re running a one man show and want someone to come in and take ownership of your social media channels.

To move up you’ll need:

  • Buy-in from leadership
  • Time and motivation to learn the ropes
  • An execution plan to stick to start managing social media consistently

Level 1 to Level 2
You’ve established a social media presence but not a clear strategy. You post when you have the time or feel an inclination, but that isn’t reaping the results you want. To start seeing substantial results, you need to commit time and a budget to building – and sticking – to a growth strategy.

To start seeing substantial results you’ll need to:

  • Commit time and a budget to building – and sticking – to a strategy
  • Expand your team or outsource certain tasks to third-party support
  • Develop a calendar, start setting goals and tracking KPIs, and testing basic boosted posts

Level 2 to Level 3
You’re starting to invest time and money in social media—good for you! Now the pressure is coming to “level up.” You want to upgrade from routine and repeatable content to purposeful, channel-specific, results-driven content and begin integrating sales with social media seamlessly. It’s hard to accomplish all of that when it’s not your full-time job. And that’s your biggest challenge right now.

To jump that hurdle, you’ll need to:

  • Staff up to a full-time social media manager or agency partner to stay ahead of the curve
  • Align with the sales team on key initiatives and launch paid campaigns that integrate with their funnels

Level 3 to Level 4
You’re seeing bigger results on social media and people are noticing. But you want to do more. You’re willing to take risks and create trends on social that others will follow. You want to try strategies and conduct innovative campaigns to take your brand even further up the social ladder. Unfortunately you’re limited by the capacity of your team (which might just be you).

To move up, you’ll need to:

  • Hire specialists, contractors, or full-time contributors
  • Experiment more with new channels and formats
  • Look at social from a more big-picture lens: how does it align with your overall brand strategy (not just marketing and sales)?

Level 4 to Level 5
Your innovative approach to social media has made your brand one of the frontrunners. Your biggest challenge? Sustaining your social media position and growing your brand presence through innovative campaigns and initiatives.

To go from great to exceptional, you’ll need to:

  • Lean into your creative, innovative side (bigger risks net bigger rewards)
  • Continue to grow your team with specialists and third-party support

Implementing the Social Media Marketing Maturity Model

Still here? Thanks for sticking with us — we know this was a long one. 😅

Grab more ideas to use the social media maturity model to grow your brand and level up your social media game with these resources:

Want a little more hands on help? We’ve got you covered. Schedule a discovery call to start talking strategy and see how we can help you level up.

Thanks to Maham Chappal for contributing to this post.

Take the social media maturity quiz to find your level and make a plan for growth 🚀

take the quiz

FAQ

1) What is social media maturity?

Social media maturity is a measurement of your brand’s presence on social media and use of it as a marketing channel — how much are you investing in your program relative to others? How effective is your execution? How does it impact your overall goals and strategies?

This social media marketing maturity model is a tool to help you answer those questions, understand your organization’s level, and set goals and strategies that make sense for where you are now and where you want to be in the future.

2) How does this social media maturity model compare to other marketing maturity models?

Existing marketing maturity models condense social media into a single box, or over-simplify the stages.

Our model doesn’t assume overall marketing maturity means social media marketing maturity — after all, there are plenty of companies out there with huge marketing departments and budgets that are phoning it in on social media. Instead, our model dives into the specifics of social media marketing and the key areas unique to social that are necessary for maturity and success.

It’s always helpful to get a second opinion, so feel free to compare and contrast our framework with others to form your own best practice.

Oh yeah, and it’s free. 😉

3) How do I know where my company falls on the social media maturity map?

Simple. Take the social media maturity quiz to walk through each stage and attribute. >>

Josh Krakauer

Josh Krakauer is the CEO of Sculpt, that B2B social media agency you just discovered. Josh has launched social media campaigns for best-selling books, publicly-traded corporations, and early-stage startups. Josh works from Washington, DC, but still thinks Iowa City is the best city on earth.

Follow Josh:

new on the blog

Ready to grow? We're ready to go.

get a proposal