Posted 02.19.2021 by Josh Krakauer
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 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.
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.
The social media maturity model is an assessment and planning tool. You can use it in 3 main ways:
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To understand the characteristics of the highest-performing brands on social media, we need to look at the people that make up those brands.
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.
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.
Wondering how to level up your social media marketing team? Hiring is the gap, and there’s no way around it.
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:
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 strategies.
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?
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:
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.
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.
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?
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.
Here’s how different brands budget for social as they level up on the social media maturity map.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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. 😉