Bridging the Digital Divide

While social media has presented marketers with dozens of options to connect with customers, how well are they connecting inside their organization? Some companies have dedicated resources (either internally or externally) that specialize in all things social; others add it onto an existing job description – either in marketing or media.  The reality is social/digital marketing is a cross-functional discipline and finding any one person or department who can pull it together effectively can be a difficult task.  Consider these points:

  • Legal. Creating a social media policy helps establish boundaries for tweeting and posting that help, not hurt your company.  The attorneys also come in handy for reviewing a client’s social policy, which may differ from your own.   You can find some good guidelines from Social Media Explorer.
  • HR. While legal sets the policy, HR needs to enforce it.  That requires consistent monitoring of all social channels and dealing quickly with any situations that arise.  And if there is a disgruntled employee spreading bad vibes, you need to step in quickly and find out why.
  • Media. Social can help amplify existing media plans in broadcast and print.  Careful planning to integrate online and offline activity will boost results much more quickly than work done in silos.  Listen to some great insight from Scott Monty, Ford’s Social Media Director, at BlogWorld 2010.
  • Marketing. This is perhaps the most important area that can benefit from building a digital bridge.  Often, those well versed in social media do not have a marketing background.  Conversely, many senior level marketers may not be in their comfort zone with the ever-changing digital world.  How can your company adapt? By building internal partnerships that combine the best of both social and marketing.

By pairing a social media expert with an experienced marketer, both can benefit in a number of ways:

  • Knowledge Exchange. Both parties need to recognize that they can learn from each other.  A healthy respect for what each person brings to the table is essential. So check the egos and listen so you can learn.
  • Best Practices. In both disciplines, there is some key learning in each that needs to be shared, i.e. timelines, language, tone.  These need to be tweaked where necessary to form new, hybrid guidelines.  This is a test and learn proposition, so be patient as you are ramping up.
  • Improved Product. Any work that is created with both social and marketing objectives in place is going to spur engagement vs. wasted impressions.  And a customer who is engaged will feel valued, love you longer and tell more friends about you.

One thing that holds companies back from this partnership opportunity is that the participants may work in different departments.  But don’t let this stop you – it’s not that daunting if you think it through first:

  • You’ll need to decide whom each person will ultimately report to.  Ideally, this is someone with big picture thinking who can appreciate the end goal and customer benefit.
  • Tweak job descriptions to set expectations before you get started. It’s also important to clearly delegate responsibilities to avoid any miscommunications.
  • Compensate on results so that each party has a vested interest in working together.  It will break down internal barriers much more quickly.

So start building bridges and break down the silos inside your company.  Your customers will be glad you did.


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