by Kenneth Rudich
The stampede to enlist social media as a marketing tool doesn’t mean that questions about the effective use of it have suddenly ceased to linger. If anything, they are on the rise, making its touted potential still a bit higher than its proven worth.
Despite that, many organizations have rightly felt a need to take action anyway, and the stories about how it has improved awareness or enhanced the brand are starting to get widespread notice. These initial outings have shown a glimpse of real promise for its future, and they’ve sparked additional thought about what might yet be done to make it work even better.
Up to now, the main focus of most social media initiatives has been on the external marketing and the benefits it can reap. But what about the benefits that might be derived from an internal marketing perspective, and can they be used to further fortify the external marketing?
It’s important to recognize that social media marketing is partially planned and partially organic. No one can know for certain what will actually happen after the launch of an initiative. In the same vein that some people will skip reading the instructions on how to do something and go straight to tinkering with it, learning as they go along, the external audience gets to decide on how they want to interact with the brand, to what degree, and in what context. As such, a brand bears the onus for trying to fit into their social landscape, not the other way around.
One strategy for managing this dynamic is to encourage participation from among diverse functions and disciplines within the organization. Since each is geared to ask and answer different questions, the perspectives will differ, and each will have its own unique outlook to offer. Plus, it’s a good bet the external audience is more interested in talking with the likes of product development, customer care, public affairs, or technical support than they are with someone like marketing.
Combining these views in a way that is meaningful to the external audience will have a favorable effect on the interaction. As Professor Francois Tadda aptly points out, “No discipline knows more than all disciplines.”
the challenge from within
To be sure, it would be imprudent of me to suggest this is easy to accomplish. The internal marketing will almost surely demand as much time, thought, attention, and finesse as the external marketing. Guidelines will need to be developed, systems and processes must be put in place, and it will require training to bring all the key internal players up to speed.
It’s beyond the scope of this post to delve too deeply into these matters just now, however, so I’ll wait until another for that. Instead, I’d like to take a moment to mention a few of the potential benefits that can come with being able to pull this off.
harnessing a fuller range of benefits
This particular approach does not stop at strictly using social media as a tool for bolstering awareness and brand. Nor does it merely increase the quality and level of conversation between a company and the market for its offering (though it certainly could). Rather, one of the larger potential benefits lies with its capacity to strengthen the organization’s own internal operations.
Here’s a short list to consider:
- it creates a platform for fostering interdisciplinary collaboration;
- it helps to reduce siloing;
- it promotes greater internal understanding of each other’s perspectives;
- it promotes greater internal understanding of the customers’ perspectives;
- it raises internal awareness of the organization’s commonly held goals and reinforces them;
- it adds potency to the mechanisms for listening, monitoring, and responding to customers;
- it helps the organization to put forth a united face for the public eye to see.