You Won’t Have a Social Media Department in Two Years

By Russell Zwanka | Small Business

Yes, you’re reading that header correctly.  You won’t have a social media department in two years.  It’s not that you won’t use social media as a customer connectivity platform.  It’s just that keeping a “social media department” separate from the digital group, the merchant group, the marketing group, and the advertising group makes very little sense.

It’s all about seamless connectivity with customers.  Do you ever hear a customer say they want to connect “socially” with your brand or your company?  Or, that they love your “digital” offering?  No, they want to connect in print on Sunday morning, online while in-store, and on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest or tumblr or Snapchat….when they are feeling like having a back and forth dialogue.  They want to connect how they want to connect…. and there are no borders in their mind.

So, how do we evolve into a customer-focused connectivity model?

You have got to re-invent your organization.  Take everything you have and question it.  Why do you have merchandising split up by categories, rather than lifestyle or customer type?  Why is marketing separated from merchandising?  Who owns the customer?  Who is your target customer?  If you know your target customers, then make sure you have customer experts inside your company.

Make Customer Managers instead of Category Managers.  Being a Category Manager is not going to work in tomorrow’s world.  Customers do not care if you are an expert at coffee.  They do not care if you are an expert at power saws.  Their cares?  They care that you understand their lifestyle.  They care that you understand how all the products work together in their lives….not your store.  They care that you understand the total picture of how you can match your offering and experience with their lives.

Eliminate separate advertising, marketing, and social/ digital departments.  You cannot have separate departments when it comes to customer connectivity.  Every campaign, every themed release, every message….needs to be represented in all connectivity areas.  The plan must include a digital component, a social component,  a print component, an assortment component, and an in-store plan.  They all work together.  Form one department for all connectivity.

Know your customers.  Sounds simple enough, right?  Know your customers.  But, here’s the clincher: every associate should work to understand the target customer.  Every associate should at least attempt to understand how the organization answers the target customers’ needs, traits, and nuances.  You cannot be all things for all people.  Customers are too connected and too hurried these days to have the patience to wait for you to catch up to them.  You must make a concerted effort to be ahead of your customers.

The way you set up an organization in the past will not work today.  Customers hold the power.  Customers have the ability to find the best price.  Customers have the ability to move fluidly between online, in-person, in-store, digital, social, and print.  The future only has room for those companies who think customers first, and think seamlessly about their customer engagement.

It’s time to look at the total picture and question your structure.  Where are your barriers?  Where are your connection points?  Who owns the customer inside your organization?  How are you staying ahead of customer evolution?  Do you openly embrace a connected customer?  It’s a new world.  It’s a world that will reward those who aggressively work to organize themselves with the customer as the center of their universe.

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