It’s not that they don’t like each other (I hope). And it’s not that they don’t care. It’s that the linkage between them was broken from the outset.
Over the past several years in my work helping household brands tell their stories, I’ve noticed a curious phenomenon that lets me know that even the best companies in the world have a big problem: Social and the BU don’t care about the same things. While this might seem crass (they’re obviously on the same team aren’t they?), it’s an observation that’s based on asking a lot of questions around how emotion studios is performing as storytellers.
Some not so random observations:
a. In companies big enough to have a Social Team, there will also exist several Business Units
b. The Social Team was generally created (a while back) as a response to market stimulus (e.g.: “we need to be on Twitter…”)
c. The Business Unit is generally the reason for the company’s existence (it makes the money)
d. The Social Team is focused on brand building
e. The Business Unit is focused on selling product or service
In my experience, the inability for well meaning Social Team members to provide great sustained metrics on Product Launches and WW Marketing pushes lies more in the disconnect from the setup and the mission (brand profile) than from intent.
In order for Product Marketing and Launch Storytelling to be effective, ALL of the following have to align and build on each other. They form a virtuous loop:
1. Connect with real people (Be relevant)
2. Inform, or entertain (Delight)
3. Be the start of a conversation (Engage)
4. Meet your audience where they live (Distribute)
5. Measure against goals (Perform)
6. Fine tune (Iterate)
I have to admit to being so focused on number 1-3 over the years, that I didn’t care what happened once it delivered – I was on to whatever was next. Yet the effect of not doing steps 1-6 is debilitating. It leads to an incomplete loop in a very important conversation with a customer.
I’ve seen some great work perform poorly because the conversation between the BU (Relevant, Delight, Engage) and the Social Team (Engage, Distribute, Perform) skipped a beat.
That great story never made it into the right hands.
Or, the fact that the story was totally off the mark never made it back to the Business Unit because the right metrics were missing. Emphasis on the right metrics. It’s not about views. It’s about the right views, the right comments, the right engagement… from there, the flywheel can start to spin.
Smart iteration – the key to a great ongoing conversation with customers – can’t happen without a complete loop between the Business Unit, the Social Team and the Customer. The way that I’ve seen this manifest in many companies is when marketing and brand are at an arms length from the BUs – as in, they’re aware of what’s happening, but may be a beat or two behind.
How to fix it? I think it has to come from the C level in any corporation. It’s that important. Tying up this missed opportunity by insisting that stories get measured and fine tuned until they work their magic absolutely needs executive level support in order to be prioritized. Consider rethinking how marketing engages with your Business Units… Perhaps embed someone from social and from marketing with the BU… I’ve seen these types of alignments help speed decisions on which stories to tell.
The Social Team has a ton on their plates and they need help understanding and prioritizing when Product Marketing IS Brand building.
Either that, or maybe go guerrilla – outside of official channels. Whatever it takes to measure performance and iterate until you get it right. Its worth the heat that this may generate, both internally and externally. My two cents born from a desire to move the needle rather than make one more thing that was safe – and incredibly ineffective.
(*I know that there are companies out there that have Social and Marketing aligned in support of the BU. You’re rare. I’d love to hear from you…)