Marketing, music and other musings

5 ways to get your organisation thinking digital

In the past year organisations such as Coca Cola and Starbucks have aligned digital as a central part of their organisation. Dave Chaffey has recently predicted that 2011 will see digital become less of a discrete, seperate area of marketing. And while this may be the way that many bigger organisations are heading, for those who work in small to medium sized businesses and organisations the day to day reality is that online marketing is still often the domain of one ‘bright spark’ or specialist, probably with a sponsor at senior management level, whose job it is not only to put in place a strategy but also to educate and inform those colleagues around them, and generally be a digital ‘champion’.

Sound familiar? If so, you’ll know all about the challenges of dealing with a range of colleagues from those who get it, to those who haven’t got a clue. Here are some practical tips to help get the point across:

1. Learn to train & delegate

OK so you’re the only person in the organisation who knows how to Tweet, or why your organisation is even using Twitter. You’ve may also have to maintain the website, oversee your SEO strategy, do your post-campaign analysis, and create HTML newsletters. You’re going to need to delegate! Remember that for every hour that you spend training somebody to do something now, it’s probably 2-3 hours work per month that you then don’t have to do, leaving you with more time to get on with the strategy and tactical decisions that will ultimately move your organisation forward quicker.

That means training other staff to use digital tools, so make sure you’re always available to offer one-to-one sessions when they’re needed. Create simple training documents that are easy to follow for common processes that lots of staff are going to need to know how to do (‘Creating HTML Emails’ was an often-used one for me). Refine and improve these documents over time, based on feedback from your colleagues.

2. Patience is a virtue

Patience really is key in bringing your colleagues up to speed. As the digital evangelist you are there to offer training, support and encouragement; take being asked for help as a positive thing, a sign that your training is working and your co-workers are beginning to incorporate digital tools into their roles. Politely explaining the difference between an advanced segment and a custom report for the third time that week may not be the most taxing exercise for you, but your associates will really appreciate it.

Remember many people may not have used a computer much outside of the office, certainly won’t have heard of analytics before, and definitely don’t have a Facebook profile. It’s hard for them to grasp something that to you seems so natural. That’s fine – after all almost 50% of people still don’t participate in social media at all – but it doesn’t mean they don’t know it’s important, so be patient and most will be keen to learn.

3. Keep it simple, stupid!

The most annoying thing for anybody outside of the digital world is the wall of jargon that those of us in the industry understand but means nothing to anyone outside of it. When you talk to colleagues, keep it jargon free – I often find PPC is better understood if you call it Google Advertising or Facebook ads, as most people intuitively know what a sponsored link is without understanding how it gets there. Try to leave the jargon to the conversations between you and your developers. Explicity explain what direct traffic is every time you mention it; never mention the Open Graph, always say ‘the Like button’. Keeping the language simple helps everyone to understand.

4. Find your champions

You’ll always have some people in the organisation who ‘get it’. Identify these people and nurture them. In exactly the same way that you would find influencers as part of your external social media strategy, you’ll need to find those people inside the organisation who will spread the word for you and become advocates.

One idea might be to form a working group that meets once a month to identify ways that you can incorporate digital into people’s schedules without taking over their weeks. Again, invite feedback from these people about ways of doing things – they might not have your level expertise, but they will still have ideas.

5. Keep people informed

There’s no point beavering away at the coal face week after week if the boss doesn’t know what you’re achieving. Write a monthly update, highlighting successes and the progress the organisation is making – how digital is contributing to different objectives, how much your search engine rankings have improved or a great piece of engagement from your Facebook page that day.

Distribute it to as many people as is realistic, not just your champions but across the organisation, so that other people can begin to understand what you’re trying to achieve. Include a ‘highlight of the week’ showcasing great campaigns from your sector and beyond, to help everyone in the organisation get their creative juices going and start to ‘think digital’ for themselves.


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