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June 16, 2010

Social maturity

It used to be that just launching a social application made you a marketing leader. Now everybody's doing it.

Some people just run campaigns. Doritos' Super Bowl ads are a great example. So are little applications like Mad Men Yourself, where you can make your own icon to represent yourself as a Mad Men character. These are great, but they don't really change companies. They also don't challenge the organization -- they get launched, they run, and even if they last, the marketer doesn't change.

But we increasingly run into organizations that have multiple social applications running. Take Dell, where there are internal and external initiatives on everything from communities to Twitter. Or Intuit, where the TurboTax help function is actually a community, and other communities of "experts" advise the company on directions to take the software.

In some sense, we're all going where Dell and Inuit are. There are going to be more social applications in the future, not fewer. Companies are going to need to manage them. And the organizational model model isn't obvious -- letting everybody do their thing is chaotic, but managing it all centrally may squash the creativity out of people.

What we need is a maturity model for organizations building or using social applications. And we'd like your help to create it.

We're interested in how this works at your company. We'd like to hear from anyone involved in social applications -- marketers, sure, but also PR, IT, legal, finance, HR, and so on. Why not take our survey? We'll share a summary of the results with everyone who takes it, and we'll share the top line results right here.

Note: this isn't really designed for vendors, agencies, consultants, or regular consumers -- we're looking for people who work on on social technologies within companies. So if you're somebody like that, why not just comment on the post right here, or you can join our community for further discussion.


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terence coughlin

Great idea for a survey - however, it is not very user friendly to go over 2/3's of the way through the survey only to get the message near the end that you are not the type of respondent the survey creators are looking for.

Apparently if you answer along the lines of not being involved in INTERNAL social media efforts, you are not a suitable participant - maybe I'm off track in my interpretation, but that's what the survey experience left me with.

Regardless, I look forward to the top level results.


I'm skeptical as to whether applications really are as useful to brands as you suggest.

From my experience my sense is that these tactics often create a lot of light - but not much heat.

My feeling is that most brands, will leap frog the "we need applications" stage - straight to "data web marketing" - and let 3rd parties decide how / when to build applications. In short - API's and data are going to be much more important soon than individual, single use apps


I agree with the first comment regarding the survey. I got most of the way through only to be kicked out at the internal social media question.

Sean Corcoran - Forrester Research

Terrence and Lisa,

Thanks for spending the time to take the survey. Sorry for any inconvenience, we'll take a look at the experience to see if we can improve it ASAP. It may be that you actually finished the survey and we're not communicating it correctly. We'll post an update shortly.

Sarah Glass

Terrence and Lisa,

Thank you for your feedback. Because of your comments we went back into the survey and realized that a skip pattern was sending you and about 20 others to a screen out page rather than a "thank you for completing our survey page". The good news is that your information was not lost and will be included in the final results. To fix the problem, we have to shut down the survey which we will do tonight when participation is lowest. We will also send out an email to all the participants who received the incorrect message and explain the issue. Thank you for helping us identify the problem! We greatly appreciate your assistance.

Sarah Glass
Researcher, Interactive Marketing
Forrester Research


For small organizations it's tough to cover all fronts and understand the ROI. Case #1: I setup a blog for one advocacy client and the visitors skyrocketed 100 fold versus their website which was already strong. I don't really know if it made a difference. The politicians would however call the director first before a new program was announced to see his organization's reaction. They would also call and ask us to stop our email and blogging campaign since they were overwhelmed with citizen feedback. So something was right in our approach.
Case #2: I setup a Facebook account for another organization. We're playing with what gets the responses and donations for low income housing needs. When we dropped our PO mailings, the donations dropped... whoops!
Case #3: We used an old-fashioned listserve 2,000 members. A national survey was being done and we found out about it. Within 24 hours, we drastically changed the outcome of the survey.
These organizations are usually 2 to 14 employees and use virtual staff for functions like communications technology. Each organization is different and different things work or don't work. We can't cover every social media method.

Facebook apps development

Thanks for pulling this altogether. Makes a really interesting post. I’m really enjoying your blog.............

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