There are some big, significant changes happening at some of the biggest consumer and b2b marketers. We are all seeing them and participating in making them happen. There are four that may be slow-moving but unmistakable in their path forward.
All hail the Content Factory
Marketers like Intel, IBM, Coca Cola, Nissan and Ford are all aggressively expanding their capacity to create, distribute and optimize content as an integral part of their marketing and communications programs. We have all been talking about it for a while. But the complexity comes in the doing it. Some will call it a content factory some may approach it slightly differently and call it a brand newsroom. Strangely, I often hear marketers calling it a ‘newsroom’ as if they have just discovered applying editorial principles to marketing (I think most communications departments walk in with this understanding).
Intel has their IQ model (see comments on their model). Ford, Nissan (see Nissan's Content Factory) and Coca Cola (see Coke's Content Factory) have something called a “content factory.” Common elements often include:
- Conscious story planning against brand and sales goals
- True multimedia content creation from videos to images to infographics
- Hiring brand journalists to mine for stories within the organization
- Inventing a data-driven approach
- Thoughtful publishing of content to drive up engagement scores in social platforms like Facebook and Twitter
In 2013, we will see more brands declaring a content factory approach and those that have been doing it for a while we start to codify the measureable advantage. That means they will prove out the investment in dollars and cents and in the process start winning awards. Once the associations and award organizations adopt and elevate “content marketing” awards a virtuous cycle sets in and more marketers will jump on board.
The Community Manager as a Business Leader
We talk about the next generation of Community Managers (CM 3.0) having responsibility for Facebook ad spend. That is just one responsibility that is coming. But just that one elevates the role significantly as the premium offerings in Facebook and Twitter are increasingly becoming a hybrid of art and science (see my thoughts on the CM payscale). At the end of the day, these ad platforms are about delivering valuable content to more people. The CM 3.0, responsible for story content in social channels, will want to control that.
At the same time, brands are struggling with the tension of wanting a consistent voice and behavior in their Facebook wall or Twitter handle and the need to map the type of interactions back to the way they are organized. We see brands distinguishing between “lightweight” content created by the Community Manager, higher-investment content (“heavyweight”) created by agencies and brand marketers and service-oriented interactions managed by customer service.
If the value of a brand community is measured by engagement and brand preference (favorability) wins times reach (acquired fans or social advertising) divided by service dissatisfaction, then perhaps the resources to optimize all of that ought to be in the hands of one responsible party. That doesn’t mean that multiple parties don’t publish into a Facebook page. It does mean that we put the business responsibility of the community into one CM 3.0.
Facebook Studio already gives out awards and ‘nods’ to brands using the platform well. We see a rising trend in the distinction of quality interaction and content in social networks versus just being active. This will put a premium on strong community management. (see this post on 'best and worst' in CM job descriptions)
Common elements of this trend include:
- Formal community management training (we see this in our own training curriculum and in associations like WOMMA’s community managers training program)
- Social Playbooks and eLearning programs to scale best practices and compliance
- Clearer RACI (responsible, accountable, consulted, informed) mapping around community management
- Discretionary Facebook ad budgets in the hands of the CM
- Increased investments in infrastructure technology from Spredfast to Salesforce.com Marketing Cloud
- Establishing the CM “community of practice” to develop defensible expertise (if Unilever, Coke and Nestle all have defensible IP around brand building – e.g. Brand Building the Nestle Way – how soon before they add chapters on community building that reflect their learnings and best practices bespoke to their brand(s)?)
More Social Data & Community Regional Centers
Building on the publicity behind the Dell and Gatorade “Command Center/Mission Control” of the past couple of years, more consumer brands will establish regional centers responsible for listening and responding to communities and multiple responsibilities around converting digital and social data into actionable insights.
The reason the examples already in the marketplace have not triggered a flood of brands establishing these centers yet is the complexity of organizations. Social listening and data analysis serves several established departments from marketing, communications, customer service and product development. That means multiple budget holders and business “owners” of the resource. Without a leadership mandate from above or a particularly charismatic leader in one discipline, it’s tough to get these centers off the ground.
But as business interest shifts from the desire to listen and learn from customers to driving advantage from “big data”, business leaders will find a renewed interest in making these social centers work.
Brands are struggling with formalizing the best way to get insights out of listening. After investing in technology like Radian6 and Sysomos, they discovered that turning data into useful information and/or insights remained elusive. The other big challenge is figuring out the division of labor on community engagement (see previous business megatrend).
Common elements of this trend include:
- Building out physical listening “studios” in key markets across the world
- Investing in training to develop aptitude to analyze digital and social data
- Partnering with benchmarking partners like Socialbakers, Unmetric and SimplyMeasured
- Visualizing data to make it "yummier" for executives