Agile Social Media Marketing
The digital space is known for its short life cycles. Coupled with the fact that users’ attention spans have decreased significantly in recent years, it makes digital a dynamic place to operate in.
That’s why digital marketers of all kinds are looking for ways to plan content efficiently, balance short and long-term initiatives, estimate available resources, and test campaigns that achieve the greatest return on their investment in order to keep up.
Luckily, a new process methodology on the rise is poised to make adapting to the changing customer demands in the digital world that much easier. Agile marketing is a smart, flexible, and innovative approach that is transforming marketing processes of all kinds in organizations large and small. This method of process management has proven especially beneficial to social media marketers, who have much to gain from being adaptive, reacting at a fast pace, and responding to change, instead of being overwhelmed by it. The benefits of Agile are a clear match for the exact challenges that social media managers and their teams seem to be experiencing as they manage their various platforms.
A Word on Agile Marketing
While Agile might be a novel concept for social media marketers, it is a household name to many of their collaborators. Agile originated in software development in the 90s. This iterative approach to project management allows developers to deliver frequent product releases with higher value and customer satisfaction.
Agile promotes collaboration, communication, and transparency within teams. The approach is known for improving productivity, team morale and focusing on customer value.
Eventually, Agile spread beyond IT to other areas such as marketing. Due to their proximity to digital departments like IT, marketers saw an opportunity to adapt Agile ways of working to their own needs. They even crafted their own Agile Marketing Manifesto that captures the essence of the methodology in the marketing context.
What makes Agile so preferable to marketers is the variety of solutions it provides in the form of process practices. With the right tools, marketers of all kinds can use Agile to generate better results and outperform their competitors.
The Agile methodology is particularly valuable to the field of social media management because it promotes precise planning in shorter timeframes and customer-centric value creation with fewer resources.
Social media marketers globally are transforming their processes to Agile, so that they can take advantage of frequent experimentation over large and costly campaigns and testing and data over opinions and conventions. This approach makes Agile a great opportunity for marketers navigating social media platforms to attract customers.
Why is Social Media Marketing at the Forefront of Agile Marketing Adoption?
Social media management requires coordination across many teams such as copy, IT, and design. Among these teams, there is often a lack of communication. Due to the different focus of their efforts, keeping these teams on the same page, working towards the same goals, is not easy. Unfortunately, this ends up leading to dependencies and delays ultimately reflecting poorly on social channel performance.
Agile has a great solution to this challenge. The methodology encourages having a small cross-functional team where everyone has multiple skills that contribute to getting the work done efficiently. Cross-functional teams are able to better communicate, and most importantly collaborate to create maximum value for the users.
Social media marketers are also, arguably, dealing with the fastest rate of change than their other colleagues in marketing. As the social media platforms constantly change, so should the social media strategy and tactics. In the new age of rapid shifts and short-cycle trends, big-bang campaigns no longer work in the same way they may have used to in the past. For example, social media marketers can plan for an entire year of posts, however, if one format outperforms the others in the first few weeks, will they pivot on the strategy based on this new information or will they carry on?
An Agile social media marketer would carpe diem and pivot if there is business value.
Agile practices enable social media marketers to receive regular feedback on their efforts by learning, testing, and iterating campaigns faster based on insights from the ever-changing social media marketing landscape.
Crafting an Agile Social Media Strategy
There is rarely a one-size-fits-all approach to Agile for any function. Crafting the right social media strategy is no exception. However, there are a few foundational pillars that are an essential part of every successful Agile social media marketing strategy.
Your target audience is in constant flux between your social media channels. All these users are potential customers. That’s why creating a customer-first policy when it comes to social media marketing is essential.
Fortunately, all activities in Agile are centered around the customer. After all, the first value of the Agile Marketing Manifesto is “focusing on customer value and business outcomes over activity and outputs.”
Understanding your audience so you can center your efforts around their pains and gains is vital to successful social media marketing. In this case, you can use a value proposition canvas to make sure that your efforts are positioned around what the customer values and truly needs.
“Plan only to a level sufficient to ensure effective prioritization and execution” is the fourth principle of the Agile Marketing Manifesto.
It refers to one of the essential elements of Agile, namely, breaking down big chunks of work into small, actionable items that maximize the value of your efforts. Social media efforts are no exception. Social media campaigns benefit from getting broken down into actionable, bite-sized pieces so they can be more easily managed. Some marketers use Sprints to manage their workload of actionable tasks in a way that allows them to focus on effective prioritization and sufficient planning.
A sprint is a two to four-week period of active work in which marketers plan and prioritize what tasks they can tackle that will bring the most value to their customers. Thanks to sprints, social media teams can manage big, time-consuming projects more efficiently while allowing them to frequently release quality posts on all platforms. This step-by-step, bite-sized approach allows social media marketers to adapt to changes better than those who apply traditional management approaches.
Measure the Data
Social media marketers operating off of an Agile strategy are likely to be addicted to their data. Measuring the data helps social media marketers track how their marketing efforts perform to determine where there is room for improvement. The more experiments they conduct, the more they learn and the more value they are able to deliver to their audiences.
“Learning through experiments and data over opinions and conventions” is the third value from the Agile Marketing Manifesto. It strongly emphasizes the importance of testing and measuring any work that is delivered to the customer.
Instead of relying on assumptions and opinions, successful social media marketing focuses on numbers. When it comes to making effective decisions and improving social media strategy, the data collected from current, in-flight campaigns is the most powerful resource for social media marketers.
Never Stop Experimenting
Experimentation and iteration are at the heart of Agile ways of working, no matter the function within which you are applying the method.
Agile social media marketers avoid creating rigid social media strategies, so that they are not fully committed to a direction that seems appropriate during planning, but is quickly validated or invalidated by how customers react on the platforms. In order to stay relevant, the social media marketing strategy you follow needs to be responsive to changes and open to constant experimentation.
Testing and tracking are closely tied with all social media efforts and one of the best approaches to see what brings the highest engagement and implement it in your social media approach.
Social media marketers can only get so far alone. They rely on many dependencies within the marketing department and outside of it. In many cases, many of those pockets of the organization are not Agile themselves.
An effective Agile social media marketing strategy loops in other teams, treating them as partners.
Automating manual processes and streamlining the communication between social media and the teams it relies on also indirectly helps maintain the growth of your social media channels. By allowing non-Agile stakeholders into the Agile social media process, this team can help scale Agile across more and more teams it is in collaboration with.
Agile is the Best-In-Class Way of Working for Social Media Marketers
Agile is fast becoming the go-to method for dealing with the everyday challenges of social media management.
By starting small and layering more and more Agile practices into your process and strategy, any traditional social media marketing team can create a next-generation social media experience for customers. Incorporating beneficial practices proven in and outside of IT, this fact of the marketing department can become more effective internally, so they can maintain a consistent flow of value to customers externally.
Curious to start using Agile in your social media marketing process?