We are in a new era of marketing—one that Forrester calls the “age of the customer.”

Marketing and communications inside large organizations have traditionally been organized by individual channels, but customers don’t differentiate messaging like companies do. Customers expect the information they are seeking on the channel of their choice, when they are seeking it.

This is especially true in digital — digital can no longer be treated as separate channels, but must be integrated with the rest of your marketing and communications initiatives. With that in mind, we’ve compiled 5 digital strategy mistakes we still see large companies make that are caused by internal silos.

1. Companies ignore social media and only focus on owned digital channels

This primarily pertains to business-to-business companies, especially those in healthcare, manufacturing and companies that rely solely on a traditional sales funnel.

We hear often that either companies don’t think their customers use social or they don’t want to know what is being said because then they will have to deal with it (or as is common in regulated industries like healthcare, they may have to disclose it).

This is a dangerous strategy regardless of your business for a couple reasons:

  • If customers are talking about you, you are letting the conversation happen without your knowledge; in some cases this can quickly escalate into a crisis.
  • Your company may be missing a large sales opportunity by not taking advantage of the relationship-driven nature of social media. Social media can help at all levels of the marketing funnel.

2. Companies rely too heavily on one or two social channels

Depending on where digital sits within your company, there may be an individual, a small team or perhaps multiple teams engaging on social media on behalf of the company.

Before a company has a mature digital strategy, often the channels represented rely on the interests or knowledge of those managing the social media channels.

But if your company is spending all of its time on one channel, there may be missed opportunities elsewhere.

This may also leave you scrambling when the platform makes changes that will adversely affect your hard work.

Think your company doesn’t have anything to share on Instagram, Vine or Pinterest? General Electric has found unique ways to use Instagram, Vine and Pinterest and have amassed a large following on each channel.

3. Companies create content ad hoc rather than planning ahead and aligning with key messages

Without a strategy and road map to guide, your digital communications will be ad hoc. While this can work for awhile, it won’t allow your digital communications to impact your business.

All your digital and social channels should share a calendar with your marketing and communications calendar with a major emphasis on how you can engage your customers.

A secondary issue we see often is that measurement is looked at based on these ad hoc messages rather than overall impact.  But looking at analytics in a silo will only ever tell you part of the story.

4. Companies don’t develop a cross-functional team of stakeholders

Digital initiatives cannot remain siloed. But too often, they remain in the control of one group based on budget or perceived scope.

But social media rarely only touches one area of your business and you may need a cross-functional team to be able to respond to certain posts from your customers.

The stakeholders necessary are different for every business, but likely include brand marketing, public relations, internal communications, customer relations, community relations, government relations, legal, risk management, product/service representatives, and likely other groups from within communications and marketing.

By bringing together a team to solve customer problems and align initiatives rather than protect turf, the silos will have to come down. Have the group get together and talk through the best and worst case scenarios — as with any crisis planning, by talking through these things in planning, it helps ease the fear of the risk and get the team to focus on positive outcomes.

There does need to be a lead, so if digital is currently living in one of these groups, aim to support that existing team. If it will be new, public relations or marketing communications is a smart place to start — look to the storytellers in your business who also have a close connection to your executive team to lead the way as executive support will come in handy to help knock down any barriers you face.

5. Companies don’t align digital strategy with business goals

Digital and social media should support your business goals, as well as your marketing and communications strategies. They should not be operating on their own with little thought to how they support those important business touch points. The channels you use should align with who you are trying to reach (your audiences).

By focusing on what you are trying to solve rather than budgets or ownership, your messaging will have greater impact.

Main takeaway: Use digital communications to reach customers and solve their problems first.

Interested in more information or wondering where to start? Let us audit your digital channels or run a sample social listening report to see what opportunities exist for your business.

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