By Jon Bains, Chairman of Lateral (lateral.net)
So you are looking to start playing in the so called ‘web 2.0’ world – the question is your organisation ready for it? This is a simple checklist to see how well you are likely to fare in the wonderful world of social media, widgets, aggregation and consumer dialogue.
1. Your marketing calendar
Do you currently have a fixed marcoms calendar? i.e. two major pushes a year / Christmas / holiday bias with a long fallow etc. The old web may have been 24/7/365 but if you add dialogue into the mix then you have to be able both listen, respond and participate. Therefore the first sanity check is evaluate the flow from sporadic to continuous marketing programmes.
2. Manpower versus ambition
Do you have the resources to manage such a potentially time consuming activity? Obviously that’s where your various agencies come in.
Most brands will have a Digital Marketing Manager (or equivalent) – however I am amazed to this day that upper management believes that this one poor overworked individual who has to handle campaigns / sites / search / mobile / etc can handle a major social media incursion without a little bit of help.
If you are in it for the long haul you should seriously consider having a community manager who can potentially be cross discipline with your the research company/department - it can become a pretty expensive hobby having somebody at an agency @ £800 a day to hanging out in facebook or on the blogs on your behalf!
3. Brand Guardianship vs Brand Openness
Do you have a traditional ‘protective & precious’ marketing model? Depending on your sector this may / should limit your options on which kinds of next-gen activities you can explore. It can also make it tougher to sell-in those on high who ‘don’t get it’ even if you do. What tends to happen in these situations is you end up in a perpetual cycle of ‘testing’ or ‘research’ without the corporate clout (read cash) to achieve anything significant enough to justify further expense.
4. Internal Motivations
Why are you doing it anyway? Was your boss sitting reading Marketing one day and decided it was about time you did a open a shop in second life.
Did you sit in a brainstorm and decide it was time to make a facebook application since all your mates were on it? Did your PR folk finally wise up to the wonders of aggregation and decide now was the time for brandXNews24? etc etc?
The magpie complex is one of the most common features of modern marketing. If you are asking ‘Why’ and the only answer is ‘because’ then you probably shouldn’t bother.
5. Organisational commitment & Longevity
When planning your activity you really want to think about who is going to be there in the next six / twelve months. You may have developed the best long term engagement programme in the universe but it doesn’t help if the power’s that are become the power’s that were and you have to start again.
The key to this is strategic phasing. Plan in six month increments and insure you’ve got a tight exit strategy should budgets be killed / priorities changed / the next sparkly thing comes along.
One of the key parts to engagement is understanding the social contract you are making with you consumer. Much of the 2.0 world is one of service – I feed you / you talk to me / we are happy together. If you over commit early on and don’t manage consumer expectations they will revolt further down the line.
It’s exactly same principals as the good old days of digital when everyone wanted to start a community (as opposed to the current vogue of joining communities) and then turned them off the second they were bored. It’s a cliché the old adage ‘Communities aren’t just for christmas’ is still very true to this day.
6. Return on Investment – Models & Expectations
How do you currently measure ROI against other media? Do you have a culture of qualitative and quantitative kpi’s to give that holistic view of what’s going on?
Many of the activities you can engage with these days can be difficult to track in absolute terms with old media and hence the ‘softer’ brand impact metrics might be over-looked in favour of the ‘harder’ (and usually less impressive) direct conversion numbers.
If your organisation is fixated on short term wins and measures these activities in such a way then perhaps this ain’t for you!
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