Six Stages of Social Business Transformation, Charlene Li and Brian Solis (2013)

The “Six Stages of Social Business Transformation” is a concept introduced by Charlene Li and Brian Solis in their 2013 book “The Seven Success Factors of Social Business Strategy.” In this book, Li and Solis present a comprehensive framework to guide organizations through the process of becoming truly social businesses that effectively leverage social media and social technologies to engage with customers, employees, and other stakeholders.

The six stages of social business transformation are a roadmap that organizations can follow to evolve from traditional businesses to socially enabled enterprises that embrace the power of social media for meaningful interactions and business success. Each stage represents a level of maturity in social business adoption, with each subsequent stage building upon the previous ones.

Planning: The first stage, “Planning,” is the foundation of the social business transformation. At this stage, organizations assess their current social media efforts and develop a clear and strategic plan for integrating social media into their overall business strategy. They define objectives, identify target audiences, and establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success.

Key Activities:

  • Conduct a social media audit to evaluate the organization’s current social media presence and performance.
  • Identify the business areas where social media can add value, such as marketing, customer service, and employee collaboration.
  • Create a social media strategy aligned with overall business goals and objectives.

Presence: The “Presence” stage involves establishing a meaningful and engaging social media presence. Organizations create and optimize social media profiles on platforms relevant to their target audience and industry. The focus is on building a strong foundation for future social interactions.

Key Activities:

  • Set up official profiles on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
  • Develop content that aligns with the organization’s brand and resonates with the target audience.
  • Encourage employees to become advocates for the brand on social media.

Engagement: The “Engagement” stage is about actively interacting with the audience on social media. Organizations respond to comments, messages, and mentions promptly and thoughtfully. They initiate conversations, seek feedback, and build relationships with customers, prospects, and other stakeholders.

Key Activities:

  • Monitor social media channels for mentions and conversations about the brand.
  • Respond to customer inquiries, complaints, and feedback in a timely and empathetic manner.
  • Foster a culture of social engagement within the organization.

Formalized: In the “Formalized” stage, social media efforts become more structured and integrated into the organization’s operations. Social media guidelines and processes are formalized, and roles and responsibilities for social media management are defined.

Key Activities:

  • Develop social media guidelines to ensure consistent brand voice and behavior across all social media interactions.
  • Establish workflows for social media management and response handling.
  • Train employees on social media best practices and guidelines.

Strategic: The “Strategic” stage marks the integration of social media into broader business functions and processes. Social media insights and data are used to inform decision-making, and social media becomes an integral part of marketing, customer service, product development, and other areas.

Key Activities:

  • Use social media analytics and insights to understand customer preferences, sentiments, and trends.
  • Integrate social media data into customer relationship management (CRM) systems and other business intelligence tools.
  • Collaborate with other departments to leverage social media for business innovation and improvement.

Converged: The final stage, “Converged,” represents a fully integrated and holistic social business approach. Social media is deeply embedded in the organization’s culture and is used to drive innovation, collaboration, and customer-centric strategies.

Key Activities:

  • Foster a culture of social business by encouraging open communication, collaboration, and knowledge sharing among employees.
  • Use social media to co-create products and services with customers and involve them in the innovation process.
  • Continuously evolve social media strategies and tactics based on market changes and customer feedback.

The “Six Stages of Social Business Transformation” framework provides a clear roadmap for organizations seeking to harness the power of social media for business success. By progressing through each stage, businesses can move from having a mere social media presence to becoming truly social businesses that engage meaningfully with their audience, drive innovation, and deliver exceptional customer experiences. Through this transformation, organizations can stay competitive, agile, and relevant in an ever-changing digital landscape.