Global brands are hiring less and less agencies to do their marketing, advertising and outreach for them, and are instead exploring the intersections of journalism and community-building. We’re helping them get there, not only by curating and automating some of these processes, but also by showing them how to operationalize these efforts as new revenue centers.
eCommerce is even more interesting: Another powerhouse that spends roughly a billion dollars a year on digital marketing (yes, with a “B”) has said that it wants to streamline spending and turn buying into the ultimate information utility. It’s not interested in ‘content marketing’ or ‘social outreach’ so much as it is in actually investing in networks of people that can bundle its products with the power of highly resonant, opt-in customer information, be it through blogs, editorials, or comment threads.
Other industries such as banking have found that online discovery is enabling them to not only redefine their customer relationships, but on the institutional side, it is illuminating new opportunities to look at markets differently, hence affecting the ways they invest in and develop financial products.
The elements driving these discoveries aren’t anything new, of course. Innovations in social technology, digital content and analytics abound. However, what’s changed are the behaviors and interests of people (customers and value chain partners) such that the composition of online networks and the intelligence we can gain from them is literally transforming business… And we don’t mean this in the context of buzz terms like ‘social business’ or ‘social selling’ or ‘omnichannel marketing’.
Also note a fundamental operator in all of this: participation.
While automated functions have all but become choix du jour for companies and organizations in their quests to streamline normative operations, these same operators have also recognized that the way to create new, sustainable revenue models is by collaborating with a diverse array of domain experts and customers. Not only that, if you look at company or organizational operations themselves, you will also notice how hybridized and interconnected they are becoming, despite all of the preexisting silos.
Yes, ‘social business’ pundits have sung the praises of online and interdepartmental communications, but this is much bigger than that — this is about stakeholder participation that transcends industry silos to actually prototype solutions, conduct product or market experiments and design openly.