Business dynamics: big data and social media are changing us

A few days ago I found an article titled: “Being Agile Is the New Paradigm for Marketing”. It could have been a quote from Dilbert’s manager, but (alas) no.

I’d run into the term ‘agile marketing’ before. Since it sounded like a possible trend I decided to dig just a little bit. In this post you’ll find the results of my amateur archaeology.

Dig into the subject of agile business

Trend: BYOS

A few points from the ‘agile marketing’ article:

  • “Agile” is a method from software development which basically means you’re more flexible than in traditional project management. (I’d say that shouldn’t be too hard, especially in IT projects.)
  • Recent changes in social media make it necessary for us to develop an agile business model. I mentioned a few of those changes in an earlier post.
  • We should become more flexible since rapid changes in technology can impact business to the extent that it, too needs to change – if it’s to survive.
  • This calls for changes to the business model. Everything seems to hinge on technology here.

Marketers are supposed to be able to spot trends and write about them, so it’s no surprise to find oodles of articles about marketing trends.

Is it just marketing going all hoity-toity about discovering what will turn out to be the next management fad? Just a silly question maybe 🙂 but let’s see if there’s a glimmering of an answer out there.

A glance at Twitter shows talk about the #hrtecheurope event (October 25th): Josh Bersin gives his audience a tour of, yes, #agilebusiness – and what it means for HR.

A few disruptive changes seen in technology and society are:

  1. Social media
  2. Big data
  3. My personal favorite: people have changed (as a result of access to social media and huge amounts of information)

Organizations need to adapt by becoming highly flexible, which means quick decisions supported by technology to deal with ‘big data’.

What it also means is yet another force pushing the organization towards more transparency and employees acting more independently.

Why is it important to involve HR when you follow up on this trend?

Consider these aspects:

  • Recruiters notice people coming in with different mindsets and assumptions.
  • The technological changes affect employers’ careers.
  • You need HR for talent development.
  • HR is reportedly at the bottom of present-day contributors to ‘agile business’.

There are plenty of reasons to take a good look at different parts of the organization to get an idea of what it would mean (and take) to turn them around.

I recently wrote a post on the case for turning a company into a social business starting at the ‘back’ rather than in the marketing department. If you want things to change it’s worth noting the people who are not immediately eager to get in on every new trend, but who are experts in their own line of activity and who will understand what you’re talking about because they see it happening every day.

In the case of ‘social’ that may be the people who answer the phone for your company. Regarding ‘agile’… introducing an extreme measure of flexibility influences (organization) psychology as well as the actual structure of the organization.

It’s worth noting at this point that Beverly Macy has recently written an article about [social enterprise] trends for 2013 saying:

The true social enterprise is so far beyond marketing, it isn’t even funny.

If marketing is the only department buying into the changes affecting your business, you’re going to be in big *pause* trouble (head down ;)) sooner than you think.

How can you find out if ‘agile’ is a viable option for (parts of) your company?

  1. Read up using the reading list at the bottom of this post. I’ve included two blogs about Josh’ presentation.
  2. Look around you and talk to a few people, and I can’t stress this enough, in different parts of your organization. Leave the tool and tech talk out. Instead, ask about changes in behavior. What have people noticed about others, about themselves, about customers? Have preferences shifted lately? How do they respond to what they see is happening? What major issues are lurking beneath the surface of ‘business as usual’?
  3. While you do all this, focus on being a good advisor. Ask, shut up, listen, watch, think, ask again. I’m serious about the shutting up bit 😉

I hope I’ve given you food for thought. Please leave your thoughts in the comments. If you know of more ‘must-reads’ please add those too!

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Reading list

HR tech’s blog about Josh Bersin’s presentatio: Building an agile workforce;

Lumesse’s blog about Josh’ presentation;

And Janice Diner’s blog: Being Agile Is the New Paradigm for Marketing

Also worth thinking about: Beverly Macy, The Top Four Trends Shaping Social Enterprise in 2013 on Huffington Post.

Background: the classic by Jeremy Rifkin, The Age Of Access.

You are now in marketing: the content perspective

Do you have a blog? Have you told all your friends about it yet?

Chances are you’ve done both. In case you’re not a marketing fan, yes, you were marketing your blog. You may think “well, I haven’t told anyone yet because after all I’ve only published two posts and I’m not sure they’re that good”.

Tell you what: you are not off the hook for being too modest for marketing. I didn’t advertise this blog when it had only two posts. So you’ll get over it too I expect 😉

At some point you will:

  1. find out who wants to read (or even buy) your stuff
  2. make a plan to get them onto your blog (“I really should ask all my friends and colleagues” is enough of a plan for a non-marketer)
  3. go do it (stick to your plan)
  4. watch what happens next to find out what works and what doesn’t so you can:
  5. change what you’re doing until it does work.

If you’re doing the marketing jig for the first time and this is actually your plan you’ll be happy to know you won’t blow a hole into a 40M budget if it all goes pear-shaped 🙂

Let’s see what marketing tells you about your blog!

Outbound marketing

Traditionally, advertising your stuff in all forms has worked a treat – and it still does, to an extent. So by all means tell people about your blog.

Marketing prism: multi-faceted subject
Marketing facets:
Which is your favorite angle?

There are a few issues:

  • Relevance. If you’re looking for a title like “4 novel ways to wear sandals”, you don’t read this post even if it’s in your mailbox. Serendipity alone does not overcome “Not this, not now, not ever”.
  • Ever wonder why companies don’t ask you after 5 years or so if you still read their mails? Maybe they don’t want to know? Keep in mind to ask your subscribers after a while.

The balance is shifting to inbound marketing

We (as consumers) are morphing into ‘inbound traffic’ as we speak, calling and emailing when we‘re ready. Even if you’re an old school marketer yourself, I’ll bet you’re no different when you’re on the buyer’s seat. Companies are trying to steer us after we hit their radar, some more successfully than others.

Marketing match-making

An article I read a few days ago mentions 4 ways outbound and inbound marketing can work together. I’ve filtered the marketing talk out:

  1. Re-use the best stuff on your blog and send a “top 5 posts of the season” in a newsletter to your readers and everyone you think might be interested who’s not yet visited your blog.
  2. After you meet someone at an event, don’t send them a standard ‘nice to have met you’ email: mail them (part of) a post on your blog (or someone else’s) about a subject you discussed. Or put the link in your request to connect on LinkedIn. Make whatever you send worthy of the recipient’s attention. Come on – you want to be relevant, don’t you?
  3. Your emails, ads, LinkedIn profile should all give readers a chance, and if possible a reason, to visit your blog by following a link provided by you. A link, mind you, to a post that is relevant for anyone who just read your email, ad, or profile.

The article I just referred to leads you to a single destination which it fails to mention:

Content marketing

With all the writing on the web it’s no surprise I found an article while I was drafting this post that asks the question what’s so special about content marketing.

It focuses on the fact that:

High-quality content that is super relevant to readers will end up winning the game.

A couple of hundred articles on the internet will more or less tell you this, so you’re excused for not being completely amazed.

Relevance sounds too obvious, doesn’t it? But it means different things depending on what you’re looking for.

If you’re not a marketer but you do think you ought to get interested, this post may be just about as much as you can stomach (or too much). A pro might have left after the first glance if he/she even bothered to click the title.

What can you do for your blog right now?

A few examples for you to chew on:

  • If you’ve spent the past year business blogging like a maniac without seeing the kind of results you were aiming for, you may be doing something wrong in marketing terms. Perhaps you’re relevant for other people than the group you tried to reach. You either find out using marketing basics like the 5-step list above, or accept that your blog is really a personal blog – not a business blog.
  • If what you’re doing is Pinterest-on-a-blog, and if you’re getting exactly the types of response you might get on Pinterest if you upload a picture of a pretty dress (don’t get me started – I’m a ‘business’ user), you are definitely selling products but probably not ideas. If that wasn’t your goal when you started blogging, it’s time to change tactics.

Brian Clarke (a.k.a. Copyblogger) said during a recent presentation: content marketing is a bit like stand-up comedy. You get an idea, you try it out on your audience, you find out what they love and what they hate, and then it’s “dial up what works, dial down what doesn’t”.

If you blog, I hope I’ve given some idea of the marketing jungle out there. If you’re an experienced marketer I hope my post was entertaining 😉 Either way please comment. Suggested further readings are also welcome!

+ If you found this post to be of interest, please share it.