TopRank Marketing Editor

Influencing The Social Web: Agility Is A Factor

TopRank Marketing Editor     Online PR, Social Media

clock-stockphotoHow agile is your marketing?  Do you have layer upon layer of approval processes, committees, lawyers, and executives who need to sign off on every piece of external communication before it goes out?

If yes, your business is structured for a pre-Internet world, and unfortunately this means you will always be at a disadvantage compared to agile competitors designed to take advantage of a connected society.  An inescapable truth is the web rewards companies (and people) that are nimble.

People interact deepest with thoughts and ideas that have character and personality.  And if there is one thing that removes this, it is the superfluous layers that design by committee creates.  It rips the personality from content piece by piece as it passes though each filter, and is the antithesis of agility and what makes for compelling communications.

With social media topping the most popular digital marketing tactics of 2009, there are many challenges and opportunities for marketers.  Concurrently one of the largest challenges and opportunities is the idea of being agile, a quality that defines brands and individuals who have leveraged the web to become industry leaders.  This runs counter to the past – decades of marketing in a pre-digital world have created unnecessary redundancies, since previous generations of communications tools and processes moved slowly by comparison of what we have today.

As we see businesses and marketing ideas designed to take advantage of new systems permeate our world, the previous models become more dated and disrupted.  This is the natural order of things in a society undergoing changing technology and communications trends at an accelerated pace.

What hasn’t changed is that share of voice matters as much, perhaps more than ever.  Right now, it’s being siphoned from the overly cautious to those able and confident enough to move effortlessly.  Survival for marketing professionals depends on their ability to find a way to work around the artificial barriers that can’t be removed and carve out a path of least resistance for their external messages.  In essence, they need to become more agile.  Companies that attain influence in the social web are defined by this.

Fresh content only happens as a by-product of being agile

As Lee previously noted regarding developing a social media and SEO friendly website, fresh content is an essential element of popular sites:

To play the search and social media game, a web site must be in the content publishing business. Search engines and participants of the social web respond favorably to the signals created from frequent updates.  Participation in off site social channels can be brought into the corporate web site through RSS or widgets providing web site visitors access to additional forms of information and interaction with the company.

Consistency with publishing fresh content – without sacrificing quality – benefits both social media and SEO.  More content simply means more potential entry points from the engines and consistent publishing plays naturally into building a brand and subscriber base in the social web.  You don’t achieve consistency and quality in a timely manner without agility.

Every company is now a media company

As more businesses realize the truth, that every company is now a media company, the number of organizational entities contributing content to the web will continue to increase.  Yet as the supply of content increases, the aggregate amount of attention available remains static, meaning the fight for attention is an aggressive, daily battle across the spectrum of niches.

Media companies, businesses and individuals are all vying for that finite amount of attention, and the most responsive and active (with a purpose, of course) reap the traffic, links and attention of the social web.  Thinking like a new media company – being agile and quick to adapt, is the right mindset for success.

Being agile let’s you jump on opportunities at the intersection of digital PR and SEO

Capturing search traffic from journalists, bloggers and other web influencers by responding and reacting to hot news items in your industry is only possible if you’re able to move your responses quickly from draft to publish status.  You’ll get on the radar of journalists covering a trend story this way before the competition.  According to a recent survey from the Arketi Group:

When asked how journalists use the Internet:

  • 95 percent say search (Google, Yahoo!, etc.)
  • 92 percent say reading news
  • 92 percent say emailing
  • 89 percent say finding story ideas
  • 87 percent say finding news sources
  • 75 percent say reading blogs
  • 64 percent say watching webinars or webcasts
  • 61 percent say watching YouTube
  • 59 percent say social networks

Nearly all journalists use search as a research tool for discovering content related to their story.  The very real result of being an agile web publisher is gaining visibility amongst reporters, which leads to placement as an expert within a story and puts you on the path to develop a relationship with that reporter as a reliable source of information. It’s an area that has been proven time and time again to be true – traditional media, social media and SEO are interconnected in a symbiotic fashion and being weaved together tighter daily.

Hedging negativity

A few companies have been able to prevent a groundswell against their brands by being free to respond directly to consumers and rectify negative situations before they reached that unstoppable tipping point several unfortunate companies have experienced.  So agility doesn’t just help build your brand, it’s also a factor in social media reputation management.

As the Internet shifts into real-time, the advantage of even being slightly more agile goes up

What makes real-time compelling is the immediacy of information, and consumers are being trained to demand content from media, businesses and each other instantaneously.  Agility is the only option here – and if you can become even slightly more agile than competitors, you can position yourself ahead of them with ideas, products and content time and time again.


Agility mixed with the right content marketing strategy and long-term planning is a surefire formula for success, and is the mindset we’re excited to see more and more companies and forward-thinking marketers embrace.  Enabled by the web, individuals have long used the fact that they are able to be more agile than media to level the playing field with traditional gatekeepers.  Now savvy marketers are doing the same thing for their clients and companies.  Embrace agility from the top down and watch your social marketing efforts soar.

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  1. Avatar Daniel Sevitt says

    “to be more agile than media to level the playing field with traditional gatekeepers”

    I’m suffering from mixed-metaphor-tosis.

  2. Excellent article Adam! After reading the opening paragraph, I exclaimed, “OMG! This is my life!” I work for a state college and I have done some freelance Internet marketing work for a state agency. These clients try to be open to new media–they understand it’s essential in their marketing strategy. However, their conservative attitudes and extensive approval processes inhibit them from achieving success and the marketing results THEY desire! Thank you for articulating so well WHY these ‘yesterday’ attitudes about marking need to be revised!

  3. It’s relatively easy to build an organization that is agile if it is a startup.

    The question is, how do you make an established enterprise or organization agile? This is much harder, perhaps a follow-up post on how to make your organization agile would be very useful.

    I think e-retail and commerce organizations have a much easier time of becoming agile than more traditional businesses like financial services for example.


  4. Being Agile in your words means influencing the Social Web, so things must change when new trends start happening, be nimble, write, speak, your content(Social Media), and hopefully someone will take notice in your content marketing strategy.

  5. So, here we have an article written by someone who makes their living off the idea of new and creative ways to use the Internet. The key message here is solely to be agile. You probably use that in every presentation you do. The fact is that in order to protect the name and image a company and a brand has requires adherence to set of internal principles and policies. These must be protected and if that means that a review process must exist for published materials then so be it. The agility comes from how that process works and how a company chooses to communicate. And they don’t have to be a media company to do that. Social media has its place, but that doesn’t mean it has a place in everything we do that is marketing!

  6. I completely agree; pace, transparency and agility are key at the moment, as the rate of news and trends increases.

  7. Mike-
    I think you may have missed the point; the author is not promoting anarchy of policy and principles. He’s simply saying that in order to be effective at the ‘conversation’ which develops so quickly on the web, being agile is essential and that going through 5 levels of approval to publish a response or any communication hinders that. He’s also not talking about ALL marketing, he’s speaking of the culture of the Internet and what it means to be successful marketing there. So if you just want to build your “BRAND” in a closet, I hope your target audience is senior citizens who still open their mail.

  8. Avatar Dave Malone says

    Good read, Adam. In the software development world, the Agile development methodology is used to break down the traditional business barriers, and all of the red tape involved in pushing the product from idea to production. As developers, the closer we are to the business (or decision makers in general), and the more responsive the business is in making critical decisions – even if those decisions mean significant changes in the requirements or development plans – the more agile we can be as developers. This is crucial to not only rapid application development, but a successful end product. If you can be agile, you will provide the services and results which the business needs to be a success.

  9. At the moment companies need to try new things and come out of the dark ages, like you said in your first paragraph, companies who are not agile and have to go through the approval process are going to get left behind if they don’t try new ways of marketing.

  10. Great post! Agility is so very, very important. Kung fu-level agility is a necessity to surf the social web and get results.

  11. Interesting article. I also think that some individuals don't move quickly enough to utilise social media, which they should seeing the effect it has on their reputation.

  12. Interesting article. I also think that some individuals don't move quickly enough to utilise social media, which they should seeing the effect it has on their reputation.