It’s a Jungle Out There: Rethink Social Marketing Team Practices in 2017

January 4, 2017 | Lorraine Stewart

Today’s marketers want to attain omni-channel consumer engagement. But with evolving platforms, technologies and social strategies – it’s a jungle out there.

Larger organizations discuss centralized vs decentralized team design and in-sourcing vs outsourcing options. In smaller, growing companies leaders seek more hands on deck to improve how they manage their brand messaging across social media channels.

But as marketing leaders, designing the structure of our social teams is NOT important. Hold on tiger – stay with me. Read on to learn where to focus your energy when managing the social media beast in 2017.

The Elephant in the Room

Our natural tendency is to start with org charts and team structure. But the world of social marketing is not traditional terrain – and requires a different mindset. Leaders can jump-start the New Year with focus on three action items:

  • Align social marketing with corporate goals
  • Populate social teams with diversity
  • Nurture social team culture

And don’t panic – just because you’re not starting with structure doesn’t mean you’ll need to live with chaos. You and your team will gain insights from real-time experience. As the business case for social investment matures, the more formalized structural models for social marketing will continue to take shape.

Face(time) It

The lack of commonly understood definition around social marketing purpose and payoff creates ambiguity. This naturally adds to the tension within companies. When we bring social experts, strategists, designers, analysts, community managers, media planners and buyers and brand managers into the room it can get a little chaotic or a little chilly. Mix in third party suppliers like content agencies, digital agencies and ad-tech firms, and everybody has an opinion, and an agenda. So, how does a leader manage the wild kingdom?

Group Me

Social marketing teams are best positioned within companies as collaborative communities by design. They will realize their greatest potential from their built-in diversity brought to life with the collaborative practice of shared thinking. Recognized by educators, shared thinking models emphasize creating and thinking critically, making links between ideas to create new ones and using strategies to solve problems.

social marketing

This interactive process leads to higher quality customer insights and those game-changing brand building ideas! Compounded thinking spurs innovation, a function of several good ideas melding into new, indiscriminate to its source.

Shared thinking practices = social marketing success:

  • Shared thinking accelerates the creativity process
  • Shared strategic thinking improves the execution of social campaign tactics
  • Shared visibility to analytic platforms improves team understanding and dynamics
  • Shared thinking behaviors among team members spill over to elevate everyday work quality

As leaders, it’s your job to nurture a culture that supports a diversity of perspectives. For example, social team members may need overt permission to offer out of the box strategies. Leaders need to signal it is advantageous to experiment, fail and learn as we go. Learning agility is key.

In social marketing teaming, each participant needs to feel highly valued for her iterative ideas and contributions, without the mantle of position, tenure or stature. Millennial generation employees are most comfortable sharing and creating, and don’t require traditional order.

Linked In

Integrating people from external agencies into the company herd can be a challenge. Everybody wants to get along — but often the desired integration across agency resources is a function of cultural fit.

Organizational culture reflects variances in ways of working, behavior and even core values. Fundamental differences in agency culture and work practices do exist. For example, some agencies define their value proposition as the creation and production of content developed as experts, largely independent of client team interaction; they work best with clients that seek a range of creative ideas. Other agencies sport a more fluid, participatory culture; they integrate well into client teams that seek iterative, co-creation processes. This model works for clients seeking higher degrees of ownership, accountability and efficiency.

Coffee Meets Bagel

Designing the structure of our social teams is not important. Choosing who we invite into our social marketing teams to help architect our 2017 social plan is; however, this is not a question of title or role or even the name on one’s paycheck. Social success will be a function of establishing a team culture that honors diversity, shared thinking practices and collaborative behavior. Leaders seeking success need to populate social teams wisely and reward productive behaviors accordingly. They also need to engage with external agency partners that align culturally with their own organizations.

Orchestration across growing social marketing teams will then become more productive, more agile and more well – social! as the year unfolds.

Keeping life in the wild kingdom peaceful and thriving is a challenge that requires new thinking. ROJEK can help you find the just right agency partners and build integrated teams that support this critical shared thinking. Let’s talk!