Instill an agile marketing approach
Integrating a social media moderation process into a brand management system is a good step forward. But instilling an agile marketing approach will achieve an even more fundamental change. Combine the two, and you have the new, evolved approach to brand management.
My previous article "How to put agile marketing into practice" covered this in more detail. In a nutshell, the agile marketing approach says "big leaps" should be replaced by ongoing mini steps. It asks for a continual journey of "test, learn, commit" (TLC) loops instead of the traditional sequential design and development process known as waterfall in software development. Instead, agile development uses multiple sprints that produce vertical slices of a project making continual adjustments and -- where necessary -- abandoning directions to pursue entirely new iterations of the product slice. As for why an agile approach better positions an endeavor for success, there is no better parallel than Darwinian philosophy, where the most successful species are those are quickest to adapt.
If you instill an agile marketing mindset and way of working, then all marketers, whether brand, campaign, digital, PR, etc., have the freedom and gain the benefits of a continual TLC approach to marketing. The new brand management system, which incorporates social media moderation, finally provides the means for marketers to put the agile marketing theory into successful practice. A great recent example is EA's video game "Battlefield 3," where the social media team captured immediate feedback from the online community that the searchlight in one of the game sequences was distractingly bright. The consumer input was routed back to the product teams, which then rapidly developed a software patch with a new searchlight. Both the new change itself and the brand's speed of response turned active consumers into real appreciative advocates.
Social media moderation integrated into a brand management system -- let's call it an agile brand management system -- provides the entry points, data sources, and cultural catalysts to start putting a more agile marketing approach overall into action. It's an entry point because successful agile marketing depends on having the right tools in place for ongoing monitoring and awareness of the environment. Social media moderation generates valuable real-time data for this. It also provides a very powerful resource for test-bed and prototyping products, services, content, ideas, brand initiatives, and campaign ideas. It encourages more experiments and learning through doing. As such, it's one of the biggest potential catalysts for a change of culture from traditional to agile marketing.
The new brand management
Digital marketers have always been more agile than traditional marketers -- it's inherent in the technique of optimization in all digital marketing. By working more closely with brand managers, they now have the opportunity to reverse engineer their approach into the whole marketing organization, making the company truly more agile.
Brand management has not kept up with the challenges and opportunities of digital and social marketing to date, but it can step up into the new world if it embraces agile marketing in general and a new agile brand management system in particular. This creates a whole new world of possibilities for brand managers and digital marketers. It provides a way for marketers to have more freedom to experiment while still remaining on brand. It brings brand managers closer to real-time insight and engagement with their audiences via open, social, digital channels.
Simon Ward is director of strategic development at Ayzenberg.
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