Figuratively speaking, of course. The Proficient state is the last stage in the evolution cycle. Before diving into things, let’s quickly review the 4 social media adoption phases that come before the Pros. The Missing, which I previously introduced as the Mistrusting, represent a group that is absent from social media for one reason or another. Then come the Seekers who are all about experimentation and discovery. Up next are the Integrators who are starting to uncover the place of social media in the bigger picture and are learning to connect different tools, activities, resources and programs. In the fourth phase, the Relators are taking integration to new levels and advancing their practices far beyond those of the Integrators…until they reach a point where social media becomes a part of their DNA. Welcome to Nirvana!
Business. In its ultimate phase, social media will be such an integral part of everyday efforts that in the case of marketing, it will be treated the same way as any other form of marketing. It just becomes another arm of marketing. It’s integrated everywhere (where it makes sense) – online, offline and on the go. Social media will have earned an equal seat at the marketing table during annual and quarterly budget discussions, although questions about dedicated long-term social media marketing budgets may surface earlier in the adoption process. Social media (marketing) will be fully operationalized and the company will be fluent in cross-organizational social media teamwork.
Practitioners. Advanced practitioners can be found widely in the organization. They will have solid and authentic relationships with their fans and followers, and will be well versed in managing relationships with their influencers and advocates. Anywhere and always. Their interactions will be natural, conversational and will provide value consistently. They will encourage their fans and followers to dialog amongst themselves and will provide them with the tools so they can do so. Practitioners will be easily, comfortably and consistently leveraging the full social media chain from listening, engaging, measuring and refining their activities when needed. By this time, measurement and analytics will have moved from a series of point-in-time snapshots to long-term trend analysis in which both qualitative and quantitative results are evaluated and considered. Practitioners at this stage will know how to effectively and efficiently gather data from social media and turn it into actionable insights. And they will have a workflow in place to act upon these insights.
Things to Watch Out for. The challenge in this phase will be to avoid falling into the complacency trap. The Proficient will need to be careful not to become complacent or too comfortable; a little paranoia can help. Things are constantly changing and in order to remain on top of your game, it is advisable to always keep an open mind and eyes.
Putting It All Together
As indicated in my first blog post on this topic, the stages of social media adoption are general theories, and it is possible for a large corporation with multiple groups to be in different stages of the evolution. It’s natural – especially if your social media efforts originated in pockets of the organization. What organizations need to recognize is this: social media is what you make of it. You’ll get out what you put into it. If your goal is to reach Nirvana, be prepared that it won’t happen overnight. It will take time, lots of effort and persistence.
About the birth of this blog series: about a year and a half ago, I was considering writing a book on social media in the enterprise. I had my theories and frameworks ready to go and went as far as writing 3 and a half chapters but I never seriously pursued publishing it. Instead, in the spirit of social media, I decided to share abbreviated versions of these chapters with you all as blog posts. The social adoption journey, – which I first introduced to the public in January 2011 -, and the 4Ps planning framework (intro and business integration posts) , – which I wrote about last year on my personal blog -, were 2 chapters in “ the book”. (Of course, I condensed both chapters to fit the blog format). The third chapter was on creating 360° social media engagement. In my next blog post, I will share a high-level version of this framework with you hoping you’ll find it useful and what else?…engaging. Until then…
Check out this simple illustration we have put together to show the phases of social media evolution. We hope you enjoy it!