By, Henk Campher, VP of Corporate Communications, Hootsuite

Social media should no longer be thought of as merely a megaphone for marketing messages owned by the marketing team. Instead, pivoting to a more holistic, organization-wide social media strategy provides the opportunity to realize social’s full potential and reach social maturity.

Less socially mature organizations are likely just starting to explore the possibilities the technology can bring to the broader organization. At the other end of the social journey, mature organizations view social as a fundamental part of a business’ growth and a driver towards digital transformation — meaning it has to touch most business departments.

To do so, the whole organization should see social as innovative and integral technology.

Here are five key lessons for CMOs: how to mature their organization’s social strategy and achieve their overall business goals.

1. If you only use social media for marketing, you’ve already fallen behind

This isn’t to say organizations shouldn’t use social as a promotional tool. More than 80% of organizations say social helps them reach prospective customers more efficiently. Although social media is an essential communications technology, it’s important to remember that it’s a two-way street.

Mature organizations recognize the value of leveraging social beyond the marketing team. One of the most significant advantages gained: the breaking down of silos. When every department is seen as an essential component of an organization’s social strategy, information is shared, and projects can be cross-collaborated on — meaning the rest of the business can reap the benefits social brings.

Take customer service; for example, 83% of people expect companies to respond to a social media question or complaint within a day. With a social strategy that both the marketing and customer service teams have eyes on, customer queries can be managed easily and addressed rapidly.

2. The power of social is relationships, not scale

It’s natural to associate social platforms with scale. After all, the numbers are impressive, with 4.14 billion active social users across the world. Therefore, it’s no surprise many organizations think of social as a broadcast medium where they can speak to consumers en masse.

As organizations develop their social strategies, it’s those led by a socially mature CMO that don’t just focus on scale but hone in on social’s true value (relationships) that succeed.

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Mature organizations are more likely to listen to social conversations about their brand and engage — resulting in businesses building stronger relationships, as they can monitor conversations and interject at the perfect time.

This increases brand loyalty as customers can see that the company understands them and knows when and how to offer support.

3. Social will help you engage a broader audience 

While the main focus of a social strategy should be to create relationships with consumers, CMOs that lead socially mature organizations to realize the power of social to reach their broader communities — and employees are a vital part of this.

Whether that’s through social profiles owned by the organization that specifically target employees or employee advocacy, brands that put the effort to connect see improved employee engagement and greater collaboration amongst teams.

Employee-facing social programs also provide external benefits like greater organic reach amongst consumers, and improved sales lead quality.

CMOs need to look beyond their direct consumer bases and focus on other stakeholders too. By considering what each audience is looking for from an organization, social strategies and tactics can be explicitly designed to answer those needs.

4. When you increase your social maturity, you increase your business resilience

If a brand was still on the fence about fully investing in a fulsome social strategy, they should look no further to be convinced. Mature organizations see improved brand metrics, such as brand relevance and sentiment.

This helps organizations paint a clearer picture of customers and how they interact with the brand, which can inform the wider marketing and sales goals.

However, the impact of investing in social expands way beyond metrics. Smart investments in social media can make an organization more resilient to disruption — something every business need to pay attention to this year.

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More than two-thirds of respondents from our Social Transformation Report said that using social media helped them respond to the impact COVID-19 had on their business.

The key learning for CMOs here is to drive investment in social strategies, both financially and with action. Real maturity requires investment as mature programs don’t just drive isolated business goals but benefit the entire business.

5. A broad social strategy to lead your digital transformation

2020 has catapulted digital transformation for many organizations. While at the forefront of many businesses for years, 59% of executives in the UK said that this year’s events created a need to speed up initiatives. The good news — social media brings consumer voices to the forefront, providing the ideal starting point for any digital culture shift.

When it comes to digital transformation, organizations should look to social frameworks to lead the way. CMOs will have already built a steering committee, sparked employee collaboration, and created the culture shift their digital transformation project will depend on.

They should now turn those same structures to align their organisation around digital customer behaviours better, and their digital transformation will follow.

There’s no point approaching a social strategy half-heartedly. CMOs need to ensure it gets backing from every department, involving their executive colleagues in the planning with the insights gleaned from social conversations and monitoring to drive the business forward. In today’s climate, investing in social could be the difference between surviving or falling behind.