social_shot[Editor's note: This article was originally published on, and is republished here with permission of the author.]

Last year was particularly busy yet productive for Charlene Li and me, as we published two reports that detail the six stages of social business evolution and the true state of social business in 2013, an eBook on how successful social businesses are evolving, and an image-rich slide deck complete with all the graphs and charts you need to benchmark where you are compared to other social businesses.

Now Charlene and I are proud to introduce our latest infographic that summarizes high level findings across all of our work in 2013.

The number one thing we learned last year is that no matter how much we celebrate the case studies and best practices of the most social brands, they are far from perfect. You can replicate campaigns, but you can’t replicate how the efforts of others cultivate ideal experiences and relationships with your customers … in a meaningful way.

This infographic tells a story. But it is how you use the data in this infographic that helps you tell your story your way. You’re either paving the way for the future of your business, you’re struggling to make the case to do what you know is right, or you’re not sure where to begin or how to get buy-in.

As much as we talk about social business and social media, the truth is that change is an individual story. While there are patterns for change, transformation always comes down to a change agent and the team she or he assembles to pave the way. The question is, what role do you want to play in all of this?

The future is unwritten … and it’s yours to write.

Highlights from the State of Social Business Infographic

Companies are organizing and formalizing social media strategies into social business strategies…

78% of companies have a dedicated social media team. This is up from 67% two years ago.

Social media teams have grown from 11 people in 2010 to almost 16 in 2013.

Social business strategies are spreading across the enterprise…

According to our research, there are 13 different departments across the enterprise with at least one person dedicated to social media.

The majority of resources are allocated to marketing at 73%, but as you can see, social media covers almost every major function. Now, whether or not social media is organized and integrated, well, we know that it’s not really.

Marketing = 73%
Corporate communications = 66%
Customer support = 40%
Digital = 37%
Social media = 35%
HR = 29%
Product/R&D = 16%
Advertising = 16%
Customer/User experience = 15%
IT = 14%
Legal = 9%

Social media headcount across the enterprise has more than doubled at the largest companies from 20 in 2010 to 49 in 2012.

Companies are trying social business to positive business outcomes…

About 50% of companies say social business has improved marketing optimization, customer experience and brand health.

Nearly one in four have actually seen an increase in revenue.

Companies still have a long way to go…

Many social business programs lack a strong foundation.

Only 17% of companies identify their social strategy as mature.

52% of companies say that executives are aligned with the overall social strategy.

Just 26% of companies approach social media holistically (operating against a cross-enterprise level strategy.)

To succeed, build a foundation for social business…

1) Benchmark you program with Altimeter’s Social Business reports.

2) Document existing challenges and opportunities to address in 2014 and 2015. (We don’t move as fast as we’d like.)

3) Align all social business efforts with business objectives and priorities.


Brian Solis is a principal analyst at Altimeter Group and author of What's the Future of Business? (WTF). You can follow him at and @briansolis

Originally published Jan 8, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated January 18 2023