Recently my colleague David Cushman published an article titled The Strategic Role of Content in Proving Brand Promise -- which I highly recommend. David offers a terrific analysis and infographic on how to think about content marketing. But for me the core message was in the scalpel that David applied to the question of why marketers often struggle to succeed with social technologies. I have often railed against the common attitude that social is a "channel" alongside print, broadcast, outdoor, etc for the marketer to consider when planning a campaign. But David puts it very precisely in the first paragraph of his article:
Social Media has confused many marketers for many years. Mostly because it isn't a media. It's an exercise in relationship building.
Right. It's an exercise in relationship building. Or, taking the "exercise" metaphor a bit further, its the connective tissue for customer experience (you know, muscles, exercise...). Marketers are now in the relationship building business, not just the communications business. And that joins them to their colleagues in sales and service who have always been relationship builders. As a customer talking with a company I expect that marketing, sales, and service will all be engaged, or each engaged at the right time in my journey. And social can provide that connection to the company through the different phases of consideration, purchase, and consumption.
As I've written about in previous articles, companies in every industry are engaged in digital transformation -- reforming their business to adapt to the changing customer expectations and new opportunities afforded by technology. A focus on customer experience can help align your organization in that transformation process to understand the role of social and how it creates the need for a very different kind of cross-functional behavior across your business. In order to address customer experience holistically (across the complete customer journey) your company will need to develop four distinct types of systems and related operational competencies which will then be utilized across marketing, sales, and service functions.
Systems of Record -- Where your transactional information is stored - critical to empowering your employees to know what is happened in the past with your customer in order to track performance, define additional sales opportunities, and provide service.
Systems of Insight -- The extended data on your customers and prospects which provides the analytical base for insights, both about customer segments and about individual customers.
Systems of Engagement -- How you engage with the customer and manage those interactions
Systems of Co-ordination -- The platform for supporting interactions between employees and with business partners
These four systems together, used consistently across the organization, provide the framework for supporting customer experience. Social is key - providing both a way to link together the touchpoints of customer interaction but also to provide the means by which coordination can occur across the functional teams engaged in that interaction. Social can be a part of deriving insights, can be a part of how interactions are managed, and is core to the collaboration that has to occur in this new interconnected operating model.
So start exercising - you'll need strong social muscles to work through your digital transformation.