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[New Research] The 2015 State of Social Business: Priorities Shift From Scaling to Integrating

Ed Terpening
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2015 State of Social Business Report_cover-page-001It’s been more than a decade since social media began challenging businesses to respond to what has been a dramatic shift in how we now connect, communicate and express ourselves globally today.  This year’s “State of Social Business” research report examines the current state of social media as a business tool and points out insights that will prepare strategists for the challenges that lie ahead.

Remember Google Wave?  Hi5?  Friendster? Going back even further, Apple’s eWorld?  The evolution of social media is a story of trial-and-error, mishap and success for both social platforms and the businesses that eye high levels of consumer reach and engagement as a new frontier in customer experience, brand building and in the end, results.

What a journey it’s been…but it’s not over.  Our research shows challenging work ahead as the “low hanging fruit” of social media has been harvested.  New levels of business integration are challenging strategists to move past social media as a disruption to an integral part of doing business.  To do that, they need to form new partnerships internally.  We’ve measured a 146% increase in executive involvement in just the past 2 years, a sign that strategists are working with leaders to traverse the barriers of departmental silos and legacy business practices.  

No longer a “bright shiny object” distraction—although innovation continues at a rapid pace—all signs point to social media’s wider impact and adoption across the enterprise, breaking out of traditional beachheads like marketing, communications and customer service.  Our research shows that businesses are responding to integration challenges by evolving their organizational structures, budgets and most importantly, focusing less on scaling social but rather making it an integral part of business.  Strategists today are focused on digital and content strategy integration, proving value (especially in the face of increasing “pay to play” social advertising pressures), looking inward to the application of social to reach new levels of employee engagement, and leveraging employees for advocacy to build brand health.

We hope the insights and recommendations in this report give you the perspective needed to address these emerging challenges.


To facilitate broader discussion and give us feedback, tweet using the hashtag #2015AltimeterSocial. I look forward to the conversation!



  1. Dynamic Signal says:

    Great to see employee advocacy grow 191% since 2013, with 45% of strategists naming it a top priority. Marketers are undoubtedly in search of new methods to reach and expand their audience.

    • Ed Terpening says:

      Yes, that’s the good news. The bad news is that strategists don’t appear to have the right leaders–especially from HR–at the strategy table. We think HR should play a much more active role, as programs like Employee Advocacy and Employee Engagement (e.g., ESNs) directly impact the relationship between employee and employer. Do you see this need in your work with clients?

      • Laura Powers says:

        At Cisco, our social media team is working closely with the employee communications organization to help drive employee advocacy and engagement. I agree it’s vital to have the right relationships. Breaking down the silos and having joint goals across the teams aid in the success of these initiatives.

        • Ed Terpening says:

          Laura, would you / Cisco be willing to talk to me more about your experience managing an employee advocacy program? I’d like to write more about this topic and get industry perspectives. If so, you can email me at