I recently wrote a blog post that suggests addressing the question that has been debated over the past couple years: Who Who should own Social Media – Communications or Marketing? I conclude that it is in fact, the wrong question.
The correct question is this – How should enterprise marketing structures, strategies and processes adapt to the content demands of social media and new rules for audience engagement, enabled by ubiquitous information and all things digital – the web, social media, search engines, etc?
So what does this new approach look like? It is an ecosystem, organized around a common mission, message set and strategic deliverables. It is holistic in approach based on top-down marketing and communications strategy, digitally focused with scale, consistency and repetition as a cornerstone objective. It recognizes that content is marketing currency which must be invested, managed, nurtured and measured for performance (just as the business manages other assets – pipeline, ERP, operations, finance). It also demands a renewed focus on creativity, not only in how we craft compelling messages, but creative in how and where we deliver those messages.
To support B2B social media, marketing departments must work together and across sub-groups as a team, not in silos. The traditional marketing structure fostered discrete approaches and deliverables. It is perhaps this very approach that bred the original question of ownership.
While every effective program requires a manager and owner, marketing as a whole must own responsibility for supporting, enabling and planning the execution of targeted social media activities. Social media teams, be they cross-functional or dedicated will be enabled by content derivatives of existing marketing message programs and projects.
Consider for a moment a writer staring at a starkly empty page, tasked with delivering a story or message but not knowing where to start. Intimidating. And, time consuming. Yet this is the reality for many social media contributors. What if however, there was a social media toolkit, a central repository of content that marketing assembles in support of current messages and programs? What if that lonely writer could reach into the toolkit and grab a topic that has been prepared, give it a voice, perspective and then publish to one (or more) of the predefined strategic media targets? Tweets, blogs, opinions, all can be prepared and nurtured thru the repurposing of existing content and delivered as a component of every new project.
Each content project can be viewed as an opportunity to support social media and digital channels with new source material. Every document and video can be parsed into small consumable bits and bytes that can be ‘socialized’. This unified approach will not only provide social media contributors with a rich source of topics and content that will make execution much easier, but will also provide a foundation for consistency of voice and message.
Managed properly, every enterprise contributor can have access to source content, with predefined target objectives, back-links, calls to action and strategy supporting an overall editorial program. It can be syndicated to the business partner communities. Regional marketing teams can translate and publish in local languages. All of this expands the digital presence, thought leadership, the base of long-tail keywords and increases the volume of qualified, inbound traffic to your website. It is also much more efficient to execute.
So how is this dilemma resolved? By thinking differently about how business marketing operates as a team.
B2B marketing can no longer be “one and done”. The press release, another email offer, a new whitepaper or brochure, conceived, created, managed separately and thrown at the web team to “post” without continuity to all other activities will at best, fall short of its potential. In the real mission of marketing and communications, it will fail. It will fail to breed repetition, expand your digital footprint, nor will it scale to facilitate social media.
To impact the market today, digital content must be fluid, evolutionary, mutually reinforcing, measured for response, and refined for improvement. And then, repeated. It must be architected and orchestrated, search optimized, published and curated methodically, blogged, tweeted, and repurposed until the cows come home. As a program, it must communicate with directly with your target audience personas needs through a series of compelling messages, targeted to address each phase of the buying cycle. At all times it must communicate to your customer the strength of the company’s vision and position the business as an leader. Just like a good salesperson engages with a prospect, digital marketing must now accomplish this before a prospect will engage with sales.