The rise of social networking has radically transformed how we communicate and collaborate through one simple truth, “social networking mimics human behavior” this “social habit” means that the user is naturally drawn to the communication media through association. So we see Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and others all taking advantage of this fact to grow their markets.
Social media of course transformed the media industry forever, not only did the “social web” start translating email threads into open conversations, it also shifted the consumer into social messaging, influences, insights and consumer power and the most important “measurable consumer interactions” consumer data analytics.
Emerging digital media forced the creation of the digital agency to service client demands to access and leverage this new self-engagement platform. So you would have thought that the first place the agency would look is internally, to see how the social enterprise could transform many of the employee habits and actions that the agency clients are also trying to influence in the B2B and B2C sectors?
So why during my travels, do I go into many marketing organizations and find the “enterprise social network” strategy of most of these companies in complete chaos, confusion or disregard? Marketing agencies have been slow to encompass the power of the social enterprise themselves often tripping up over themselves by not being able to strategically change their logical global operating structures.
Most agencies work independently even within the same organization. Many will have disconnection across global accounts and with differing “legal” entities and reporting structures, collaboration and communication platform standardization of both technology and business strategy are often just not there.
Additionally lack of leadership from the c-level executives exasperate the issue. It is well know that for social enterprise technologies to get “self-adoption” (the best type of engagement for cost vs. effort) leadership is key to success. Many agencies do not even employ/recognize the “Enterprise Social Media Officer”, leaving the role somewhere between Corporate Communications, the CIO and Digital Officer, with no clear definition.
The media agencies are leaving valuable business insights, strategies, creativity and competitive advantage on the “cutting room-floor” by not seriously engaging in the social enterprise. Not only do these technologies provide incredible insights into the behavior of your people, with “ideation” you can actually use them to start generating revenue streams, by creating, re-using or morphing existing creativity against new objectives, often problems become “fixable challenges”, arguments become “alignments” and sharing becomes “collaboration”.
These are fundamental shifts in the companies/employees behavior and what “social technology” is doing is providing the “framework” for those organizations who have been talking for years about breaking down geographical, economic and structural boundaries that hold back improved client services, global capability, reduced FTE’s, slimmer more connected companies, more agile, need I go on.
Hence I think the advertising and media organizations need a change of heart, the group companies have to look at the “Enterprise Social Officer” in a new light as a new corporate/board position, that connects the corporate communications, technology and digital needs of the business in the new social era. These new social champions then must work across and through the operating companies constantly breaking down “business complexity” using social tools into “business simplicity” in whatever function this may be both internally and externally.
As an example, I don’t know of one agency using a “Social Enterprise external network” to manage global relationships with a client, however I see plenty of brands already doing this from Virgin to AT&T and the rest, who’s leading who here? Also go and do your own research and see how brand leaders like Richard Branson are leveraging the social platforms for their own “brand advantage”, now go and check on the leading agency CEO’s, the social foot print imbalance is huge!
Agencies need to step up to the mark. Being digital is not about encompassing the newest technology, it’s actually about being able to rapidly access, influence and engage in conversations, insights and actions. So you would have thought that by now the real smart agencies would have fully integrated “social platforms” that leverage continual 24hr value out of their talent and creativity. Then use these social behavior’s to not only service their clients more effectively but also to be used to provide internal “brand health measurements on their own performance”, gain insights into market strategies and market testing, measure creativity, ideas and insight.
In conclusion, the agency c-level executives have really got to start engaging with social in their business and not just talking about it, because they are in an industry where “clear creativity, diversity, talent, communication and openness” are their most valued assets.