*And they are all harder than you think
We have been pushing our "integrated social media" for a few years now - probably sooner than we should have. When we said 'integrated' a year ago generally we meant integrating marketing, communications and customer service. Implicit in that is a second interpretation of integrated, this time to mean the combination of owned, paid and earned media strategies and platforms. That's what tends to get the biggest impact in social media from marcom programs.
Now integration means something more to the top brands who have been experimenting and applying social media over the past few years. Both Jackie Huba and Jeremiah Owyang recently published posts on "the year of integration." Each has good experience consulting with major brands to call on. Jeremiah's recent survey with social media strategists at major brands revealed a natural conclusion - to get the most out of social media, brands need to integrate it across the enterprise.
Five Types of Integration
Brands face five types of integration. They are all important and most are hard but necessary.
- Paid, Owned, Earned
- Global & local
- Across the Enterprise
- Inside & Outside the Organization
- Inside Every Job
Paid, Owned, Earned - When you combine the power behind your own Web site and Facebook page (insert brand social web properties here), with some purely social strategies like engaging influencers or inspiring a community to share with sympathetic advertising geared to increasing reach and presence you will have a more successful program. I am not dismissing the basics of having a great product or service and customer service with their ear to the ground. Those I take for granted. Once you move beyond the unshakable foundation towards pro-active marketing, an integrated approach works better every time.
This model implies a commitment and routine of the marketing and communications teams within the company working together. Often these groups have a different reporting structure. Sometimes they are a bit competitive. Once in a while it is hard to guess they even work for the same company (or customer).
The "ceneter fo excellence" federation model has worked to bring these disparate teams together.
Global & Local - Big multinationals in B2B and B2C often split budgets between the corporate center, often called 'global' and the local market. Since different regions of the world are developing social media differently and at different rates, not every local market feels the pressure to adopt social media marcom techniques....yet. I have seen many situations where the social media ambition of the corporate center whether based in the US, EU or China isn't matched by the local marketplace. And often the local marketplace has explicit or implicit power over the issue.
Most often the marcom budgets are bigger at the local or regional market level and the global team must rule by attraction versus fiat. It's one thing to impose social media governance rules to limit the uncontrolled growth of brand Facebook pages. Most local markets will understand the issues there. It's another to pressure a local market to shift budget to social strategies when you are hammering them for sales targets at the end of the week. Nothing new there. If brands want to incent markets to change, they will need to give them room to do so and exhibit some global leadership that says 'this is important.'
Across the Enterprise - HR, IT, Legal, Finance and Product Development are just three examples beyond the marcom and customer service units that are increasingly affected by social media. If its not protecting intellectual property from some bone-headed blurt on a Facebook wall ("we finally had a breakthrough on our battery technology by using...), its wrestling with the demands of video-heavy network traffic on the IT backbone as people stream video for legitimate and illegitimate reasons. The social media guidelines we all created 5 years ago to tell our employees what they could and could not do via social media now seem quaint.
If your marketing culture is to embrace social networks than it does no good to have your HR leadership restricting access to Facebook or YouTube on the network. Integration across these units is critical going forward. And yet this is where a lot of paralyzing conflict will arise. Just look at the crisis management scenarios when legal needs to restrict what employees say in relation to the crisis due to their litigation implications. Communications leadership often wants to get out and walk the walk of openness and plain-speak and just say "sorry, we screwed up.." but can't and stay in sync with legal.
Inside & Outside the Organization - What does the staff at the brand do and what do their agencies do? Never mind which agency type. The question of what is handled internally versus via a partner is going to be a work in progress for years. Should agencies manage the Facebook wall? Early wisdom was that brands should not delegate the conversation to an outside party. Well, many agencies are as close to the Brand and the business as any staff member.
We have seen a demand in our Conversation Management services (which include Facebook Activation & Management) grow considerably. Now I believe this is temporary and that over the next 3-4 years, brands will settle on a staffing commitment to handle these responsibilities. But the question remains, how can you best integrate your internal and external resources in a medium that demands authenticity, responsiveness and transparency?
Inside Every Job - We aggressively train everyone in the agency. Someday, we believe 'social' will be a part of everyone's job just as 'digital' has become. We will stop using the word 'social' as a qualifier for certain tasks and responsibilities, e.g. 'social strategy' will just be strategy. While we need ot make social media a part of everyone's job, we have a long road to get there. Still, brands are working hard to deliver the training that will help grow proficiency and confidence.
Training goals, onboarding procedures and even hiring diagnostics that identify how socially savvy new recruits are will help get to this integration.
This is the year of integration for many brands. I doubt we will all make equal progress against these 5 type of integration. I suspect it may break down like this for many:
2011 Enterprise Integration
- Paid, Owned, Earned: big integration gains
- Global & local: Facebook progress but otherwise it's just a start
- Across the Enterprise: just a start
- Inside & Outside the Organization: somewhere in the middle
- Inside Every Job: its a start