Which departments are instrumental in gathering social media analytics?
Wickham: Our digital and social media team partners with IT to do this. IT manages our Web Trends analytics software, so we work closely with them to track activity on our website. IT also helps us vet external analytics vendors.
Holland: It's mainly marketing, including statistical analysis, but IT and finance also are involved.
What challenges have marketing and IT faced in working together and how has that relationship evolved?
Wickham: We have always considered IT our strongest partner -- even well before social media became such an important part of our strategy. IT is an enabler of our communications function, whether through hardware, software or social platforms.
Holland: As with any IT project, the challenges in working together include cost/benefit justification, allocation of resources and full communication. Technology is continuing to build loosely coupled frameworks to make it easier to integrate.
At PCH we have successfully implemented an agile development framework to respond to high-value marketing needs and strategies in a more timely and iterative manner. We are also implementing more and more Web services and APIs that tie into our various user engagement platforms (Instant Win, Path Campaigns, Sweeps Entries, etc.), so it is becoming more seamless to introduce new channels to our marketing and customer-acquisition strategies.
How do you expect social marketing analytics to mature and what role will IT play?
Holland: Technology is continuing to be strategic in capturing more and more data to be fed into our data warehouse to better identify customer segments and build better user engagement experiences that traverse all our properties and programs.
Wickham: You need only look to the recent presidential election and the successful use of analytics and micro-targeting to understand that we have a tremendous runway ahead of us to grow and customize analytics.
What advice do you have for your peers venturing into this arena and the role IT can play?
Wickham: Partner early and often. It might sound trite, but for social media marketing to truly succeed, you need your IT partners to help shape and inform your strategy. They are experts on the tools, and you should be the expert on how to deploy them. Combined, this is a powerful alliance.
Holland: Going outside your comfort zone or trying something new can be rewarding and refreshing for a brand, but just make sure your technology team is able to support it, or at least agree to be part of the vetting-out process, especially if it is truly something new and bold.
-- Sandra Gittlen
Social marketing: Early days
Mark Fidelman, author of Socialized!: How the Most Powerful Businesses Harness the Power of Social, has witnessed a lot of confusion in the social marketing arena, stemming mostly from an attachment to traditional marketing strategies.
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