Opinions Social Media

How Social is Changing Marketing Teams Forever

Posted by Roland Smart on June 26th, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Marketers and investors, mesmerized by the aura around Facebook's IPO, have spent countless hours poring over the new ad products and strategies that Facebook recently introduced at its new marketer's conference, fMC. However, most have overlooked a core part of Facebook's strategy, one that is currently reshaping the composition of the modern marketing team. Facebook is fundamentally changing the size and shape of marketing organizations and creating an entirely new class of job function: the marketing developer.

At fMC David Fischer, VP of Advertising and Global Operations for Facebook, led a conversation about the transition of Facebook’s ad model and what it means for marketing teams. Three points from this conversation speak to what the “new” marketing team looks like:

  • Specialized - The new marketing team is composed of several new roles including community managers, social strategists, and marketing developers. Each must have a deep knowledge of their area of expertise.
  • Collaborative - Success with social campaigns requires cross-functional teams because social is a fabric that connects brand touch points.
  • Scalable - Social marketing budgets are getting bigger, but team sizes are not keeping pace. Therefore, teams must use their increased budgets to leverage platforms that allow them to scale their efforts and work more efficiently.

Those marketers who built early web teams should recognize these criteria and the value of restructuring in order to leverage social. Facebook has already started rewarding companies that are building these teams around the critical new role of the marketing developer. How are they doing this?

The short answer is that to fully leverage Facebook’s Open Graph, brands must apply iterative development cycles to their application experiences--and to do that, they need a dedicated marketing developer. The fact is, Facebook is pushing brands to break out of their “campaign”-oriented mindset and into an “evergreen” mindset. Why is this so?

Applications based on Open Graph have the benefit of “passively” sharing content into the feed, but they require the user to “authorize” the app and agree to a set of “permissions.” This is how Instagram shares your photos into the feed without the user “actively” sharing (“like”/“comment”/“send”). Because it takes an ongoing investment --and iteration-- to build a community of users who have “authorized” the app over time, these applications are inherently challenging for short-term campaigns. Here’s the rub: brands want to leverage the reach that Open Graph offers, but they don’t know how to fit their campaigns into an evergreen framework. And to be frank, there are few examples of brand-oriented applications (i.e., not apps like Instagram that are really services in their own right rather that experiences that promote a brand) that successfully do this.

Facebook is driving change for brand marketing teams through changes to its platform and the associated framework establishing ongoing relationships with the community. This seems like it might overreach even Facebook’s influence, but when you consider that this agenda is just a social representation of “permission marketing,” it seems less ambitious. Marketing teams have experience with permission marketing and their understanding of the required value exchange fits perfectly with the models that are being used for everything from email to mobile apps.

If you buy that argument, then you’ll probably agree that the “new” marketing team is going to be much more like a “product” team in Facebook’s vision. And who drives product teams? Product owners who manage technical teams do. . . and they’re also known as “marketing developers.” Going one step further, the new marketing team will also inherit practices (such as Agile) from product teams and need platforms that support these practices.
The vision that I’ve laid out above is really an interpretation of the messages Facebook has been promoting for over a year, though most brands and agencies haven’t fully understood the ramifications yet. The benefits of following Facebook’s lead regarding Open Graph begin with the fact that Facebook’s new ad units, “sponsored stories,” build on Open Graph; there will surely be other extensions. Facebook is bolstering their marketing teams to drive this message into the market, and they’ve grown the team that manages the freshly rebranded “Preferred Marketing Developers” (PMD) community (formerly known as Preferred Developer Consultants). Facebook is clearly leveraging this community as a channel for spreading the word further (Fair disclosure: my employer, Involver, was an early PMD).

In closing, marketing teams must continue to change if they’re going to keep up with the evolution of permission-based marketing programs. This situation has been driving growth in the social marketing management software (SMMS) industry because the new marketing team needs platforms that support the three criteria for the new marketing team stated at the opening of this article: they must support all the new marketing roles---especially that of marketing developers; they must enable collaboration; and they must empower content distribution at scale.

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