As brands become comfortable with social customer service, crisis response, in-house community management and even some command centre style executions, the thirst for an ‘always-on’ approach to marketing only gets more intense. Let’s face it, it’s sexy stuff, some would say a necessity but it ain’t that easy!
Here are 7 criteria to help you asses how ‘always-on’ you can really be as a marketing team and by definition should help guide you to a more realistic strategic approach:
1. Resource, structure & skill-set
It is vital to ask yourself whether you have the right headcount in place or external third party support to enable you to scale up towards an always on approach. The blended skill-set required means you need strategists, analysts, creatives (written, visual, multimedia) media specialists, PR/comms and more available all with senior buy-in. Can you cover the hours? (Don’t forget about of hours or global considerations here) and do you have the right skills? Crucially, are they structured, whether it be purely in-house or with external agency support, in a way that can work together to effect change? And how quickly can they do that, effectively?
2. Culture, ownership & autonomy
The marketing team has to be given the autonomy to control, the responsibility to make decisions in real-time, the trust to escalate against a plan when things go wrong and empowered to act on behalf of the brand in a way befitting. It’s as simple as this – take 24 hours to sign off a social post, miss your opportunity and defeat the object. Hell, even an hour is pushing it these days!
If your business isn’t ready culturally to accept that change, then be realistic and scale back your ambitions and get there in baby steps.
3. Crisis process & readiness
If you are to be taking a your always-on strategy seriously then you must be prepared for when things go wrong. The ability for your team to assess issues and categorise them from mole hill to mountain is vital. Not only does your direct team need to be empowered but the rest of the business needs to be on-board, and part of the escalation process. Particularly in peak periods or times of high impact, like when running a big media campaign.
This is a bit of a techy one but is your team setup to manage on the go? Can you access content, assets, team members on the go? Will they be answering at the weekend or out of hours? As business mobility affects how we work we need to consider how this affects how we manage internal communications, share information, obtain approval and ultimately respond to customers as they would expect (bloody quickly!).
5. Content production
At a basic level you will need to be able to write social posts to whatever degree of always on is required. Don’t forget, your customer service team are creating content too so it is not about having a skilled copywriter on hand. However, for when you do, how quickly can this be turned around? And the same goes for your creative too. Factor in approval processes here too and relate back to the autonomy your team has to get the content out across your social media channels. If the process has too many stakeholders in it, then you are going to be limited.
6. Audience understanding
This may take a level of research and insight to help you shape but you have to know your audience, what motivates them, why your brand and what you are saying matters to them and how they might react. If nothing else, this will help you prepare for the scenarios that could play out and how to manage them. It will also help as you continue to create content, engage with them and drive action and crucially, how to optimise that approach.
The more ‘always-on’ you become, the more of a true ongoing conversation you are having, and if you stand in that conversation like a broken record saying the same thing you will bore, alienate or worse even offend. Matching the narrative you deliver as a brand and the the conversation your consumer wants to have is a fine art, and will need continual refinement.
7. Media support
It is no secret that you need to ‘pay to play’ across social media channels. As the big players tweak the algorithms of their platforms it just putting more emphasis on the need to support with paid media. But the question is why wouldn’t you? If you are investing time, effort and resource in the above why wouldn’t you ensure that your message is getting in front of the right people, at the right time, at the right scale?
If you are trying to move to an always on approach then it is important to map out the key milestones and potential road blocks to success. Sketch these out, make a plan and work towards incremental change. You are trying to affect a massive mindset and culture shift, so give yourself a break, Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that 😉