What does the future of integrated marketing and communications look like? By all accounts it will continue to be a mash-up of new and traditional media – all with the common goal of engaging and influencing people on their terms. The difference is that by listening, reading, and participating, corporate marketing will be smarter and more approachable than ever before.
The IBM survey of consumer digital media and entertainment habits shows that audiences are now voracious users of integrated cross-media devices – with young people no longer the only early adopters. The steady growth of consumer adoption will no doubt force marketers to consider how they can achieve greater value for their dollar spend over traditional channels.
The challenge, of course, is that the “one size fits all” approach no longer works. So what does this mean for marketing and communications professionals (like me!) who have risen in the ranks via their traditional media and mass marketing techniques?
While traditional communication such as face-to-face forums and print media will still play a part in the communications mix, technology and choice have put clients and employees in a position where they can demand how and when they get information.
The future of marketing integrates traditional and social media elements. The new mix will include what you know along with the tools to succeed in social media and customer relations. By adding “social media” methods to the communications mix we’re providing our clients and prospects with a choice… and increasing the chances that our message will be heard (and of course, being paperless, digital is the greenest of communications channels).
What do you do to get on board the new media wagon? Below are some action items for placing your company on course for the future and embracing the world of social media to enhance relationships with media, bloggers, customers/clients and all other unforeseen influencers:
- Experiment with social media as a person before jumping in as a company spokesperson
- Talk to the corporate marketing team, discuss the options, and divide and conquer
- Listen – find the tools that work for you (Google search, Blogs etc)
- Determine where your customers/clients participate, listen and read – and then speak with them on their terms and in their language
- Assign a community manager or multiple managers and start commenting, reading, writing, sharing, and participating in social media forums
- Participate as a contributor and not a marketer
- Create company profiles and share relevant content on every important social network – don’t forget to manage your presence in each one
- Create videos and demos and upload to YouTube
- Broadcast and receive relevant updates through Twitter and LinkedIn
- Webcast relevant videos
- Podcast and/or host a video blog
- Set up del.icio.us profiles for corporate bookmarks, industry trends, competition, and media/blogger coverage
- Create special Linked In profiles for company executives
- Set up a company blog or expand your internal blog to support multiple spokespersons
- Add a blogroll that links to other relevant sites and ensure that each post trackbacks to other resources and references to increase visibility
- Participate in comments
- Create blog profiles in Mybloglog and Bloglines to reach dedicated users
- Build company and campaign-specific profiles (where appropriate) on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
- Develop your own social networks specific to the company and current activities – see Yammer and Ning for examples
- Host a regular show on blogtalkradio or blogtv
- Create an account and Digg, Twitter or Facebook relevant stories – not just related to you
- Write more than one release – experiment with social releases and create new distribution methods to get them in front of customers/clients – the wire services are no longer the method of press release distribution (Newswire, AAPMedia Netetc)
- Analyse Web statistics to measure traffic and referring sources
Remember, the future of communications introduces sociology into the marketing strategy. The technology is just that, technology. The tools will change. The networks will evolve. Mediums for distributing content will grow. It’s now up to marketers to keep up and continue to monitor, track and tap into, human behaviour in order to persuade and influence their attitudes, decisions and ultimately, behaviour.