Diversity: building the social marketing team of the future

Hootsuite's Eva Taylor on why diversity benefits all layers of an organisation — especially one grounded in creativity and data like social marketing.

Ask someone to describe a person working in social marketing and I’m sure you won’t be surprised if they lead by describing someone in their early 20s.

Of course, those using social media span a wide range of age demographics: in 2019, there were almost four-billion active social media users worldwide representing a variety of age groups.

Tik Tok, the most installed app globally has a primary user base of 16-24 year old’s — and we know that Facebook’s 2.41 billion monthly active users are from a wide range of age groups with 68% of 50-64-year-olds in the US using the site.

As the changing nature of social across all age groups is being reflected through a variety of different networks globally, the exponential growth of rising social networks are starting to have significant implications for businesses who aren’t adapting their social strategies. 

These implications can also carry over internally to your team structure — as marketers start to look beyond engaging one subset of the population on any given network, employers should also start to consider how they can build diverse social teams to better represent the people they’re communicating with online and support fast changing goals.

Why your social team should be more diverse

In recent research by Harvard Business Review, nearly 95% of directors agree diversity brings unique perspectives to the boardroom, while 84% believe it enhances board performance. Bringing together diverse cultures, genders and age groups in one workplace allows for richer, more inclusive ideas and decisions. This is beneficial to all layers of an organisation — especially one that is grounded in creativity and data, like social marketing. 

The same thinking can be applied to the social team itself. As we continue to see the role of social media expand to influence all stages of the customer journey, from awareness through to advocacy, it becomes even more important to develop the team’s ability to understand and address a diverse range of audience needs. Having greater diversity can help change the way that entire teams collect and interpret information used to inform key audience insights and build a smarter social marketing strategy.

Taking social beyond the marketing department 

To better grow your social strategy beyond the marketing department, remember that even with a diversified team, your social team might not have the experience needed in other areas. To overcome this, a robust social team should build strong ties to important areas of your organisation such as product, customer support and sales to gain a more holistic view of company objectives and product strategy.

When you’re looking at weaving social through the organisation, the marketing team should never be a roadblock, but rather a catalyst to enable and empower the rest of the organisation to use social to meet their goals more effectively.

For example: providing customer support on social can lead to transparent, quick and efficient resolutions and better governance; your company’s product team may get better first-hand feedback through customers on social; and training your sales team to engage effectively on channels like Twitter can lead to a more precise and dynamic sales strategy. 

Enabling your wider organization to participate on social means that your employees are more often on the front line with your customers than anyone else  — therefore it’s your people who can offer valuable insights about how best to communicate with internal stakeholders as well as a variety of audiences. It’s this mindset that starts to foster a social-first culture within organisations, and this can bring with it a host of benefits. 

Building a social-first culture 

We’ve learned that the mechanisms and networks for being truly social need to be weaved throughout an organisation — not isolated within a single department. However, having input from different parts of the business is only the first step towards creating a social-first culture. Work also needs to be done to transform the mindset around social media company-wide. Most businesses understand the value of social in terms of widening reach and customer conversion, but most overlook it as a fundamental platform to highlight company diversity, beliefs and values. 

Building a social-first culture not only encourages employees to be engaged with their organisation, inspiring them to give their input, but it also empowers them to talk about their company’s achievements on social. Content posted by employees can have eight times the engagement of posts published on a brand’s owned channels. Building trust through your company culture is everyone’s job. According to Edelman, 53% of all global consumers see employees as the most credible sources for learning about companies — more credible than journalists and even industry analysts.

Aiming for socially engaged employees is more than just a way to boost your brand’s owned channels; it’s also a way to strengthen your company’s relationship with its most loyal and powerful advocates. 

Thinking outside the box

While we all face similar challenges around resources, time, efficiencies and more, we know that it’s important to think beyond just your standard customer personas. 

Regardless of the different audiences you may be trying to reach through your marketing efforts, one thing is clear; marketers have to add value to their customers. And in doing so, they should reach more diverse communities online — through a diverse team of people. One of the key ways that businesses can communicate with a diverse audience is by embracing a social-first culture — a significant part of which is capitalising upon, and celebrating the diversity of its own employees. 

The social team of the future needs to embrace diversity, recognise differences, and break down the walls of a department or an isolated team. It’s time to make social more social.

Eva Taylor,  Head of Social & Marketing Operations at Hootsuite.

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