We've been working on new research at The Community Roundtable called The Social Executive, trying to get a better understanding of the range of executive perspectives, how they think about social technologies and how they engage personally. We launched this research initiative to help community and social business leaders better articulate the executive journey and identify what resources and experiences would best help executives progress at each stage.


Over the last three months I have had the pleasure of interviewing an incredibly diverse range of executives – heads of learning, HR, IT, marketing, as well as CEOs – and heard first hand about the opportunities and challenges they see for their business and how social approaches are contributing (or not) to that challenge.

One of the first areas we explored with executives was how they connected the use of social technologies in their organizations to business needs and opportunities. What we found were three primary drivers for adoption:

  1. The Need to Innovate
  2. Solving an Execution Challenge
  3. Fear of Falling Behind

We then asked about their personal journey, they ranged from very little use of social technologies to individuals who developed their usage as the technologies emerged. Here are three insights I found particularly interesting:

  • Some of the executives leading the most successful online communities had little interest in participating on public social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
  • There was virtually no shared sources of expertise on the social technology or social business trend. Learning about how to use these technologies and what they could do for organizations was extremely sporadic.
  • Innovation was happening in the most surprising places. Yes, there were some more expected places where innovation was found (see the UBM case study below), but some of the most interesting innovation was happening in places I had never been exposed to – in the government, manufacturing and agriculture sectors.

I'm really pleased to announce the first report in this research series, a case study of UBM's social business journey, with significant contribution from Ted Hopton - and I thought because UBM is a Jive customer, those of you here would be interested in this as well.



Additionally, we are about to embark on the 2013 State of Community Management research where we will be collecting data about community programs, community dynamics, community management and community performance. We are soliciting participation and you can find more info here: 2013 State of Community Management: Proving the Value of Community