Good online marketing practitioners are updating their digital knowledge and training twice a year. That means they are formally updating all of the company’s digital marketing team on how digital marketing is changing, at least once every six months, according to Michael Scissons, CEO of Syncapse, a digital marketing service provider to Fortune 2000 companies. And if necessary they are restructuring their marketing departments in response to change.
Syncapse clients include Coca Cola, Diageo, and Sony (Europe). I grabbed a half hour yesterday to talk with Michael about what lessons his work holds for digital marketers everywhere. We boiled his observations down to a list of seven.
1. Stop staff commenting and tweeting outside of workflow
This one is bound to be controversial but Michael sees it becoming a trend already in 2012 and thinks it will become an imperative in 2013. Employee or agency tweeting and online comments are beginning t0 have a tangibly negative impact.
2. Privacy and data storage are local issues and need local knowledge and advisory
Companies like to think there is one privacy and one data storage culture but the reality is, especially in Europe, regulations and expectations differ across countries. American companies in particular are hitting that challenge now in Germany, where there was talk of forcing Google to seek permission from every householder in the country before they included their properties in Street View (see a TIME update here).
3. Companies need to retrain or even restructure twice a year to keep on top
The pace of change means companies are having to restructure their marketing efforts twice a year in order to remain responsive. That’s partly because of the external pressures of change but also because companies find they can achieve more once they have grown an online audience (for example better customer care alongside online marketing).
4. Good practitioners are looking to use their online communities in a variety of ways
Yes, marketing to them but also using the online channels as a means to do better customer care and also to develop insights that can feed into product development. The Facebook community or the Twitter followers, and now Pinterest fans, are a strategic asset and the ways to use that asset will grow over time.
5. Social search will soon become the main mechanism for finding products
Michael is bullish about Facebook social search and believes it has much more potential than Google to ally information about products and places (and hence where to shop). Google‘s announcement of improvements to Google‘s semantic capabilities, notwithstanding, Facebook will become the main ecommerce search engine.
6. Build a social social data strategy, long term
Building out campaigns from behavioral data is currently in its infancy but undoubtedly the combination of online conversations, friends, groups and interests is going to yield more and more data for marketers. Marketers have to have one eye on building out a social data infrastructure – not just subscribing to a listening platform but having a strategy for how the social data infrastructure will evolve.
7. Once you have the audience building done, social fits neatly into an overall campaign strategy
The average global brand manages 39 Twitter accounts, 30 Facebook pages, 32 blogs, and 9 YouTube channels, which is complex (and that is not counting Pinterest, Tumblr and any other channels that might be opening up). They do it across languages, territories and devices. Syncapse message is once you are up and running, it becomes easier to manage social in the context of an overall campaign. But the hurdle is understanding how to build the management tools to make this complex environment simple. Marketers can exaggerate the difficulties here. It is work as normal once you are over the hurdle.