Brands now have to exist in a much more participative and social online environment. They’re expected to be more engaged with their audiences and customers online, more flexible in the way they create and share content and more responsive to the needs of the people they talk to.
Brands also have to contend with a more fragmented media environment and the greater plurality of sources from which people receive messages. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer research, people now need to hear a message between three to five times from different sources before they are willing to believe it:
Source: Edelman Trust Barometer 2013
These changes mean crafting a digital strategy demands more care and consideration than ever before, whether you’re a large organisation operating in several markets and countries, or a smaller business working to establish a profile. There are plenty of considerations to think about when developing a strategy; here are five that from experience I’ve found to be particularly important:
- Executive sponsorship: Support from senior leaders and their recognition of the value digital can deliver to the organisation is crucial to driving change. For digital to fulfil its potential, it needs to be considered an integral part of the business strategy. This means the digital strategy must be aligned with organisational goals and designed to deliver against key business objectives so that its value is quantifiable.
- Scalability: The digital landscape – and social media in particular – is evolving rapidly, in terms of technology and user behaviour. The strategy must be flexible enough to enable the organisation to adapt swiftly to change. It must also be capable of scaling with the business, enabling activity to be deploying quickly in new countries or markets with a roadmap in place to support this process.
- Organisation: Digital typically demands and encourages greater integration between organisational divisions to create content and manage interactions with audiences. As you plan the digital strategy, think about internal process or organisational changes that might also need to happen to make it work.
- Engagement: The strategy should give you the opportunity to conduct controlled pilots for digital campaigns and evaluate outcomes to determine how activity should be scaled across the business. In this way, you can increase your digital maturity in a safe and manageable way, extending programmes and service improvement ideas across the organisation based on the outcomes of the trials.
- Evaluation: The digital strategy must be founded upon a robust measurement framework that enables you to track the relationship between digital activities and outcomes relevant to the objectives of the business. This framework should underpin all digital pilot programmes and large scale initiatives so that everything can be evaluated according to a common set of criteria. Evaluation will not only allow you to measure the effectiveness of activities in reaching audiences and stakeholders, but also identify when changes can be made to improve future performance.
There are plenty more that could be added to the list, so please do add any that from your experience are particularly important.