‘Social’ has become a leading theme—if not THE leading theme—among marketers. Marketers at major brands, retailers and increasingly, even financial services companies, are dabbling in everything from social promotions tools to drive higher traffic, sales and loyalty.
With all the opportunities that come with social comes the unwelcome challenge of matching technologies to marketing objectives. And even though marketers are getting more analytical, most don’t relish the prospect of evaluating numerous vendors and technologies to get the job done, preferring instead to turn to outside agencies to make crucial technical decisions. This may be expedient in the short term, but an outside agency will never understand your needs as well as your own internal technology experts. An outside agency works well for a quick fix, but using internal resources prepares you for the long haul.
As marketers increasingly graduate from experimenting with point solutions to truly wanting to drive ROI from Social, they will need the help of their own “Chief Innovation Officers” to succeed. Here’s why:
Division of Labor
The rise of social has made it everyone’s job to implement technology. While marketers are being pushed into working at a more technical level, in most cases, it’s not what they’re best at. In fact, a recent IBM study confirmed what we all intuitively know - 65% of CMOs feel unprepared to deal with the growing channel and tech device choices. Even as marketers shift their priorities, they can’t magically shift their skill set and many find themselves in unchartered territory. They know they need help – and they’re jumping to implement outside technologies they believe will provide it.
Fortunately, there’s software for everything — particularly for what they need most — social networking and data-tracking. Unfortunately, while these technologies are helpful to marketers who need a leg up, they’re still more effective when by managed by someone with a technical background and familiarity with a company’s information infrastructure.
That’s where IT comes in. They have a better mastery of technological solutions, how they work at a granular level and how they fit into the organization infrastructure and how they can be developed. Furthermore, your IT staff actually enjoys dealing with vendors, application stacks, and the interoperability of cloud-based tools, whereas most marketers seem them as means to an end. Not only can marketers offload some of this non-core responsibility, but they can focus on their core business imperatives, whether it’s increasing engagement or measuring social ROI.
Seeing the Big Picture
Marketers must be careful to select technologies that can not only help them implement quick changes, but also scale as needs expand and the company grows. Left to their own devices, marketers run the risk of creating a Frankenstein of mismatched technologies that don’t scale. They need more help than a stand-alone software can provide.
On the other hand, IT is uniquely positioned to help select social platforms that can succeed in this environment. They know to set up systems that unite the different departments of the organization. When they select solutions, they have in mind not just current needs but future potential.
Conclusion: Everybody Wins
No one in any department has yet mastered the best way to cope with changing technological landscape. Getting a handle on it is absolutely going to require collaboration.
IT leaders don’t necessarily have an understanding of how social media and marketing operates, but they are better equipped to process analytics in a meaningful and efficient way. Every department excels at something different, and what makes this such an exciting time is that everyone’s skills are in demand. Devising an infrastructure chock-full of technologies that will benefit the company most requires an “all-hands on deck” philosophy. So marketers, it’s time to stop fearing your counterparts in IT and go make friends. Only when everybody plays can anybody win.
Nadim Hossain is currently the vice president of marketing at PowerReviews, a social software company that recently acquired by Bazaarvoice and used by leading brands such as Dillards, REI, Toys “R” Us, and Staples. Follow him @nadimhossain.