Social media and content marketing are in the middle of an arms race. Channel and opportunity proliferation combined with surging boardroom interest have created a pervasive atmosphere of “more is better.” The veracity of that outlook is debatable, and I typically counsel corporate clients to do less, but to be notably good at whatever social and content executions they tackle.
I don’t see the “do more” genie going back in the bottle anytime soon, however, and thus we have perfect growing conditions for a big trend: in-sourcing.
My friend Marcus Sheridan brought that “insourcing” term to my attention in a content context this week at Content Marketing World. It was a terrific conference with more than 1,000 attendees working to advance the content marketing industry. Marcus’ keynote was a highlight, and he and I share the belief that social and content are EVERYONE’s responsibility. (Note: I’m also very happy to tell you that Marcus is writing the foreword to my new book).
The 2 Problems with Social and Content
Companies (even fully staffed enterprises with social media centers of excellence) are recognizing that social and content have two fundamental problems. First, they don’t scale particularly well when using dedicated resources, and there are few economies of scale to be had. It’s labor intensive, period. Second, communication about and from the company often isn’t’ particularly resonant to people who are viewing corporate social messages side-by-side with updates from their closest friends and family members.
To combat both of these present-day shortcomings, smart companies are in-sourcing more and more of their social participation, unlocking the intelligence, expertise, and passion of their greatest assets….their employees.
As Amber Naslund and I predicted in The NOW Revolution, social media is becoming a skill, not a job. Companies like Intel and Dell and IBM are leading the way in broadly distributed social participation, giving thousands of employees the opportunity to win hearts and mind in social and with smart content.
The Impact of Decentralized Social and Content
This decentralization of social communication has widespread ramifications for social media management software vendors, as it puts additional emphasis on triage and workflow tools. It also makes ongoing social training and internal certification a must-do in many organizations. Note that the emerging field of content marketing tools – very much on display at Content Marketing World including Skyword, Kapost, DivvyHQ, PublishThis, and Compendium - are actually farther along this path in many ways, since they are built to enable widespread content participation across the enterprise.
The days of one social media manager handling Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and the rest is coming to a close (as is the era of the one or two person content marketing team) and the same way all of us have a corporate email address and phone number, we’ll all (or nearly all) have a role to play on behalf of the company in social and content marketing, eventually.
The Future: Automated Social and Content Opportunity Distribution
Where does this ultimately lead? We’re not there yet, but I suspect it’s predictive modeling, with internal social and content opportunity routing based on artificial intelligence and enterprise knowledge mapping. If we know the specific areas of expertise of each employee and can store that in a relational database, and we can also know via presence detection who is online and/or what their historical response times have been, we can use natural language processing (a la Netbase) to proactively triage and assign social interactions to the best possible resource in the organization.
It’s not automation of communication, it’s automation of expertise mining. The right internal resource for the right question at the right time. It’s in-sourcing taken to its logical conclusion.
Or maybe I’m crazy?