One of the most interesting points raised in the recent round-table on the subject of conversational marketing hosted by CACI and new media age was made by Rob Reason, head of data planning at Virgin Media.
We were talking about the need to make the business case for using social media and developing better conversations with customers, and after discussing how this might be done, Rob said “you’ve got to dive in to some degree. There’s a real danger that if one tries to theorise and construct the whole business case, which I’m not even sure is entirely possible, you end up just not actually doing anything, and increasingly in this day and age a lack of momentum is fatal.”
This chimed with a lot of things I’ve been hearing and thinking about recently. The first is that there’s a paradox developed around experimentation in interactive media. A few years ago, before interactive channels became vital to companies, most of the work done was experimental, done on limited budgets. Now, as budgets have grown, the strategic importance of digital is making many people less inclined to take risks, at exactly the time when, as Rob pointed out, risk-taking is crucial.
The second thought is that, for many organisations, they already have a presence in the social space, even if they don’t realise it. I recently chaired a panel about social media use in financial services, and one of the questions was about how companies could get their staff using social media. The response from the panel was that, if their employees are under 27, they’ll be using it already. The challenge instead is to get them to use it in a way that reflects the company’s brand, its values and its strategic direction, without stifling the desire and enthusiasm behind its use.
And this led on to the thought that the truly integrated use of these new channels only really happens if you have buy-in at the top and enthusiasm at the bottom of the organisation. Buy-in among senior management means resources can be allocated and staff can be empowered to use the new tools. Enthusiasm at the bottom means the tools are used the way they should be and, if your company culture is right, the staff’s belief in the brand will be made manifest. And that matters because a customer’s perception of your brand is shaped by every interaction they have with the company, not just the traditional branding messages.
Read the full debate on conversational marketing with opinions and experiences from Virgin Media, the Telegraph, MORE TH>N and Westfield Shopping Towns.
Join in the conversation by following @integrate_mktg and tweeting #convomktg.