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How agile can improve your next social initiative

So you’ve read the books, attended seminars and you think you’ve got this agile thing down: You optimize your digital media activities, create multiple ad executions and perform multivariate testing. Sound familiar? While this is important, you still might not be as agile as you think. Take the Simon Ward test and see if any of these might have been overlooked.

As Ward puts it, “it’s useful to ask these four questions that get to the bottom of common shortcomings, and then look at how to address them.” Amen.

Is your digital and social truly integrated?
Ward believes that “The world of marketing is moving towards a “converged media” model.” Today, in marketing, we’re seeing the strategic blending of earned, owned, and paid media. Marketers have long talked about how this this comprehensive approach is a logical next step in the natural progression of marketing. “For years, many have discussed this integrate marketing approach, and this is not finally accelerating with the digital and social consumer, particularly for brands that target Millennials (or “Gen Y”),” says Ward. Brands that take advantage of this converged media model are the ones who “collaborate, share, and even co-create content,” says Ward. But it’s difficult. The largest problem to achieving this is silos. Ward points out that “They [silos] exist between digital and other departments, and they even exist within digital teams.”

Agile practices such as daily scrum meetings help break down these silos. These meetings help foster closer cross-departmental work across different stakeholders. This activity is a primary driver to help bring these silos closer together to make converged media happen. Teams can then generate real-time data across media types, and with the proper analytics in place, create TLC loops (test, learn, commit) allowing for multiple iterations based off of data learnings. Ultimately, this leads to increased site visitors, more effective ads, and hopefully more sales

Do you have an active listening program?
Given that the feedback loop plays such an integral role in agile marketing, it’s important to have an ongoing active listening program. The two key words here are ongoing and active. Being truly agile means continually and always working towards the next iteration. To be successful, you have to be able to respond to customers and market conditions, which “can change by the day, hour, or even minute” says Ward. “Research initiatives, programs, and snapshots all have their place, but the real insight lies in the moment, which means you need to have a system in place to continually listen.” All this translates to having analytics and reporting capabilities that create easily digestible insights that help guide the next decision and action. An ongoing listening system provides the foundation for creating and starting brand conversations. It helps you and your team be more agile as it allows you to learn and immediately iterate based off of those learnings.

Do you substitute ongoing TLC for a “campaign by campaign” approach?
Traditionally marketers planned out activities three, six, maybe even twelve months ahead of time. This strategy resulted in a “leap of faith” as activities and plans were doubtlessly based on data that had since become irrelevant or dated. Agile replaces this “swing for the fences in hopes of hitting a grand slam” approach with fewer, smaller-scale campaigns. Ask famous Oakland Athletics’ manager, Billy Beane, baseball games are won by getting runners on base. It’s not about those impressive walk-off grand slams. So Ward advises compressing “your campaign-by-campaign approach [in] to one that’s always on and evolving, you’re more likely to benefit from what agile marketing nirvana promises to deliver.”

Do you have limited links to the rest of your organization?
True agile means going beyond your individual department. Social marketers stand to gain by including cross functional team members who provide data and insight from the always-on listening system and provide feedback, learning and actions that benefit the rest of the organization. Then marketing can deliver to really represent the external customer, understand the marketplace, and embed itself as a fuel for growth.

Not surprising agile can have its largest impact between marketing and product development where agile is already widely understood and used. Beyond synching department initiatives, the opportunity for it is much larger. Agile flattens large vertical reporting structures to encourage sharing, teamwork and constant development yielding better products and no to market strategies.

Ask any organization that adopted agile at any level and they can point to quick and long term successes. Answering these four questions can help you’re team improve and be more successful.

The bigger question is can you afford not to?

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