Social media has evolved far beyond its media roots into a robust engagement platform that has deep implications for brands.

To achieve the objectives of today’s consumers and businesses, the social business team must excel at both integrating and transitioning social business practices to existing mature functions, such as e-commerce, advertising, and customer service. In the past, the social business Center of Excellence has struggled to find willing internal business partners. Ten years into this technology disruption, internal partners have become a necessity to scale impact and are now willing to invest their attention and budget in social.

Balancing the role of innovator and integrator will be a key success factor for social business – both today and in the future.

To gain a comprehensive understanding of the current state of social, we surveyed more than 500 global social strategists. This is what we learned:

Shifting focus to integrated customer experience.

Highlighting the continued shift to customer centricity, 82% of strategists surveyed named “Customer Experience” as their top priority, overtaking “Brand Health” as an objective for the first time.

The social team’s shift from innovator to integrator.

Once an innovator, the social team now serves as a connector between existing centers of excellence in e-commerce, advertising, and content. Seventy-nine percent of strategists say they are becoming more “operational and a platform for the innovation of others.”

Social commerce hasn’t achieved results.

Social commerce is evolving to fit user expectations of what it means to combine social media and sales in the form of “Conversational Commerce.” However — despite large, engaged audiences — brands using social commerce platforms to complete the buying cycle have had little success. To improve results, 72% of strategists say responsibility for social commerce must shift from the social team to e-commerce teams.

Social advertising strategy and governance are in flux.

While 76% of brands report social ads are meeting objectives, coordination with digital marketing and advertising teams has created power struggles for who “owns” social advertising budgets at different points in the traditional marketing funnel.

China’s WeChat signals the future of social apps.

If seamless customer experience is the goal, China’s WeChat platform may be viewed as a great success. It integrates commerce, brand experience and an incredible array of third-party services

To navigate the rapidly changing social landscape, Altimeter and Prophet conduct internal audits of social business strategy, governance maturity and readiness to provide brands with a pragmatic and actionable road map for a social business strategy. Contact us today to learn more.

Ed Terpening

Industry Analyst

Aubrey Littleton