Telling Stories in 2014

Last Thursday I saw a Q&A with author, speaker and social media strategist Gary Vaynerchuk. He was in the UK to promote his new book and took a lot of questions from the floor. He was funny, anecdotal, energetic, swore a lot and made a number of observations on social media marketing, most of which resonated with me…

  • Can’t automate the human touch. It takes time to build a relationship. You can’t apply email marketing techniques to social media.
  • Social media is a marathon, it takes time to build engagement.
  • Every business is now in the media business, the only way to compete is to become an authority on content.
  • Stop thinking of social media as a distribution channel, think of it as a storytelling channel.
  • Storytellers are controlling the conversation and making the money.

My last two blogs have been about the importance of content, blogging, brand journalism and story telling, so it was good to hear many of Gary’s takeaways refer to the same topics. As with much social media marketing wisdom, it’s the simple principles that many seem to find difficult to grasp – yet the notion of conversation, relationship building, give before you ask, speak with an authentic voice are all part of the basis of meaningful human interaction and should be second nature to a marketer.

The creation of content and building of authority may be something that comes less naturally, particularly to businesses used to pushing out one way messages, but the concept that Gary mentions of everyone being in the media business is one that is recurring. This recent piece on IBMs predictions for the top social media trends of 2014 observed:

They have a reported 40,000+ content producers and brand journalists within IBM, some of which are writing for their industry’s most well-known publications. IBM is becoming a powerful media house and does not rely on the media to tell their story

For businesses from all sectors and industries there can be no excuse for not embracing storytelling and developing customer relationships that rely on conversation and engagement rather than telling and one way dialogue. As Gary says:

Your core story must remain constant. No matter how you tell your story, your personality and brand identity must remain constant, too

And for those still unsure there’s no better place to start than this slideshare on Storytelling in 2014…

HR & Marketing…Do You Think They’re Overlapping?

HR and Marketing…they’ve certainly been making eye contact.

And it’s moved on…there’s a definite frisson in the air. They’re beginning to discuss needs, share information, and work on internal and external communication. In fact engagement, branding, communications are clearly concerns and interests common to both. And Social Media seems to be bringing them closer.

Those terrible twins Recruiting and Talent, whilst appreciative of the sterling job that HR has done raising them as a single parent, are growing up fast and long for the creative input that Marketing could bring to the family.

At Stopgap Group we speak to many HR and Marketing practitioners and can sense the closeness developing. That’s why we’ve devised a short survey to try and get a feel for how other practitioners see it.

You can do the Marketing & HR Overlap Survey here – will only take a minute…we’d really appreciate your input.

By way of an introduction, I’ve given the rest of this post over to Callum Saunders…he’s the Marketing Manager for Stopgap Group and he’s giving you his take on this growing overlap:

HR & Marketing – in bed together at last?

Despite the (unfortunately all-too-common) perception amongst my peers that all I do is ‘play around on Twitter and Facebook all day’, my day-to-day role at the Stopgap  Group is in fact rather diverse and indeed, unique.

For those of you that are still unsure as to what I actually do (including my other half!), I look after the marketing and Social Media functions for Stopgap, Fitzroy and Courtenay; marketing, executive and HR recruitment firms respectively.  Whilst this variety in brands affords me an enjoyable amount of diversity in my day-to-day role, it has also allowed me to look at both marketing and HR from a holistic viewpoint.

If I look back to when I started in the Marketing department here in late 2007, I wouldn’t be alone in claiming that HR and marketing were separate entities requiring different methods of thinking, marketing and strategy.  Move the clock forward to 2010 however, and Social Media has been a huge catalyst, I believe, in bringing these two functions closer together.

I first gained my first real glimpse of this at the well-received Connecting HR event in March.  I attended the event in a professional capacity representing the marketing function of Courtenay HR, but soon found I had more in common with the HR community than I had previously thought.

Several insightful conversations with various HR practitioners caused something of an epiphany for me.  Listening to these HR professionals discussing the role of Social Media from a human resources perspective, I found that this new medium has blurred the lines between marketing and HR exponentially.

Employees are now much more accountable in terms of ‘employer branding’ than ever before.  Traditionally, it has been marketing departments that have set the agenda for controlled communications.  ‘Digital Democracy’ however, has given all workplace denizens a voice – and thus an opinion that audiences listen to.

Similarly, ‘brand advocates’ within an organisation are being increasingly used to market the company.  In our own organisation, we have several prominent Social Media users whose primary function within the organisation is not marketing.  Nevertheless, their blogs, tweets and LinkedIn interactions have all combined to create an additional Social Media marketing / branding function that has undoubtedly complimented the more ‘established’ marketing efforts coming from my direction.

HR and marketing have so many similarities.  Both aim to engage groups of people.  Both functions wish to market an organisation in the best possible light.  Both look at new ways of communicating and engaging – the list is endless.

Now these similarities are not ‘new’ – these principles have been fundamental to these two disciplines for a long, long time.  However, the way we as humans communicate is shifting dramatically – and this can be ascribed almost wholly to the advent of Social Media.

As long as HR and marketing remain intrinsically about connecting and communicating with people, I have no doubt that Social Media will be the catalyst that draws these functions even closer together – and why not?  Marketing and HR are natural bedfellows and I believe it’s crucial for early adopters of this way of thinking to champion this union and achieve some very big things.