The Evolution of Social Business: Six Stages of Social Business Transformation

Research Report: The Evolution of Social Business: Six Stages of Social Business Transformation

Author: Charlene Li and Brian Solis, with Alan Webber and Jaimy Szymanski

Publication Date: March 6, 2013

Webinars: Six Stages of Social Business, with Charlene Li & Brian Solis, June 26, 2013; and The Seven Success Factors of Social Business Strategy, with Charlene Li & Brian Solis, August 15, 2013


Companies are not created equal when it comes to social media maturity. In this report, Altimeter Group’s Charlene Li and Brian Solis uncovered a distinct gap between organizations that execute social media strategies and those that are truly a “social business.” On one side, there are businesses (specifically, departments) that are actively investing in social media without being tied to business goals. On the other side are organizations that are deeply integrating social media and social methodologies throughout the company to drive real business impact.

In fact, Altimeter’s survey of nearly 700 social media professionals and executives found that only 34% of businesses felt that their social strategy was connected to business outcomes. Additionally, Altimeter Group learned that the two most important criteria for a successful social business strategy are that it is:

  1. Clearly aligned with strategic business goals of an organization
  2. Has organizational alignment and support that enables execution of that strategy

But, as Altimeter also uncovered, half of all executives are not informed, engaged, or aligned with their company’s social media strategies in any capacity.

As companies mature in social, Altimeter Group found a natural progression through six distinct stages: Planning, Presence, Engagement, Formalized, Strategic, and Converged. Although only 28% of organizations surveyed felt they have achieved a holistic approach to social media, that is the ultimate goal: to become a truly social business that is formed as a result of cross-functional and executive support, where social strategies weave into the fabric of the organization.

In The Evolution of Social Business, readers will find common guiding success factors for organizations achieving success in each social business maturity stage, as well as prescriptive recommendations and checklists to grow to the next level of maturity.”

This research report was 100% funded by Altimeter Group and published under the principle of Open Research. The report and survey data are intended for you to read, utilize, and share with others. We ask that you provide attribution to Altimeter Group.