Knowledge Curation in Social Marketing?

   Social Marketing is more complicated and competitive than ever before. Why wouldn’t it be? Just look at how far science and technology have progressed in the last 20 years. Do you really believe that social marketing is that much slower?

   The days of doing your own social marketing at the water fountain, and still being competitive are over. You just can’t both keep up with the requirements of their discerning and demanding customers and predict what these customers will be wanting throughout their customer journeys.

   Today, companies need every advantage they can to provide better service than their competitors. Being able to accurately predict not only who a marketer’s best leads and prospects are, as well as how and when it is best to engage them is nice, but understanding how their acceptance of these marketing offers will affect the overall bottom line, is what market research and its various forms is all about.

   This ability will not only empower marketers and salespeople in the future to be radically more productive and profitable than they are today, but also give multiple corporate departments visibility on their micro and macro needs. Used properly, predictive analytics and market research can transform the science of sales forecasting from a dart-throwing exercise to a precision instrument.

   The concept of sales and marketing automation has already produced some of the highest-flying successes in high-tech. Companies like Salesforce.com have been wildly successful in automating the sales process for salespeople and sales managers. Big Data and Knowledge Curation software vendors are offering interesting products at highly affordable prices.

   In their article, 10 Principles of Modern Marketing, Ann Lewnes and Kevin Lane Keller argue that, “Technology has changed everything. Fundamentally, it allows for new ways to create customer experiences, new mediums to connect with customers and other constituents, and trillions of data points to understand customer behavior and the impact of social marketing programs and activities. Yet, with all that progress, we are still only at the tip of the iceberg in terms of the profound impact technology will have on the future of social marketing.”

   The Adobe Sensei Team claims that, “The battle to win customer hearts and minds is no longer simply about your product. It’s about the experience. Because that’s what keeps customers coming back. To compete on experience, you need to understand what customers want now while anticipating what they’ll do next. And because your customers have lots of choices, you don’t have a lot of time to get it right.”

   The fact is, many times, the knowledge you need to personalize interactions and compel customers to act is locked up in huge amounts of data. This means someone has to sift through it all to recognize patterns, trends, and profiles, so you can quickly act on insights. The problem is, it’s too much data for humans to sort through alone. This is where Knowledge Curation software comes into play.

   Customers will always expect a human touch in their interactions. These new technologies won’t replace social marketing jobs, but they do change them. Brands should think of Knowledge Curation as their behind-the-scenes social marketing assistant who helps unlock insights in volumes of data, develops a deeper understanding of what customers want, a forecasting tool that predicts trends, as well as monitors unusual activity, such as spikes or drops in sales—all while giving Brands more time to make decisions that matter.

   To fully realize the potential of technology, it takes transformation across people, processes, technology, and information. Only by recognizing all four forces will modern marketers reap the full benefits that technology can have on social marketing.

   To thrive in this new era, it's imperative that marketers embrace developments in technology, test, and adopt new advancements that fit their business. At the same time, mastering technology is not the only criterion for success in the modern social marketing era—the right people and processes must also be put in place to properly develop, manage, and nurture relevant knowledge flows used at specific decision points within the firm’s business operation processes.

   Today, the customer-decision process is becoming more complex and varied. As the customer journey becomes increasingly nonlinear, the organization must change to reflect that. In a more complex marketplace, internal organizational lines need to be redrawn. Silos must be broken down and cross-functional relationships established so that social marketing works seamlessly across other groups in the organization such as IT, finance, sales, and product management. Social marketing can benefit from the output of these other groups and also contribute to the groups’ effectiveness and success at the same time.

   For example, to improve the reliability of financial forecasting, social marketing can share early-warning lead indicators that have been shown to affect bottom-of-the-funnel behaviors and ultimately revenue (for example, the number of customer visits to company-controlled websites).

   The social marketing department can show its growing worth and value by demonstrating “its impact on the business, validating the ROI of every dollar to peer groups in the organization and becoming a strategic driver of the business.

   Marketers must learn to be agile, take risks, fail fast, and apply lessons. They must also learn how to get the most out of a data-rich world by testing, optimizing, and activating. Experience is the new brand, which will be one of the big differentiators for companies going forward.

   With traditional marketing, the customer-decision and company-selling process was comparatively simple with customers entering into a company’s sales and marketing funnel and making various choices along the way to becoming loyal, repeat customers. Today, every “customer touchpoint online and offline—as wide-ranging as a tweet, product download, in-store purchase, the company’s social purpose, its executives’ behavior, and the corporate culture—can shape experiences that define a brand for customers.

   Marketers operate at the intersection of many of these customer experiences and are uniquely positioned to help steer the future directions for brands. In doing so, marketers of technology products cannot just worship the product alone and be transactional in their customer interactions. They must create full-on, immersive experiences for customers that build strong ties to the company and the brand as a whole. Experiences are the new competitive battlefield and a means to create powerful differentiation from competitors.

   For example, companies such as Adobe, Fitbit, Buffer, Wistia, and Mailchimp put tremendous emphasis on customer education and ensuring customers have the best product experience possible. To help customers take full advantage of Fitbit and lead healthier, more active lives, the company uses social media and the support of a strong community, in addition to telephone, email, and chat customer support, to both impart and collect information about product usage.

   In China, the government’s “Made in China 2025” initiative lists, Knowledge Curation as one of its main capabilities to focus the country’s attention and resources on. China’s big three, also known as the BAT’s—Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent—have distinct advantages over non-Chinese companies in their access to massive amounts of data, which can be collected at will, with no concern for privacy.

   China has set the goal of spending $150 billion to achieve global leadership in knowledge curation by 2030. I mention this because anyone who wants to keep up with knowledge curation needs to keep a close eye on what is happening within China. Any company looking to compete for customers in a multitude of industries might soon be competing against a Chinese company that is utilizing state-of-the-art tech—that should be the fear, even for companies who think that they’re insulated from foreign competition.

   A new acronym that is making the software rounds these days is CXM—Customer Experience Management—and it helps businesses collect and process real-time data from across an organization. A CXM platform activates content based on customer profiles, allowing personalized experiences to be delivered in real time. This is the future of both knowledge curation and brand marketing. The adoption of this type of platform is the difference between staying competitive and not. Following the decisions of others within the market arena and leveraging the work of their analysis can no longer produce timely decisions.

   As they say, "you don’t need to adopt the new knowledge curation capabilities and processes. Staying competitive is not required. Survival is not mandatory."


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