Last week I watched a TED talk about us all turning into cyborgs with self-enhancing, always-on digital devices attached to our heads and hands.
Such transformation is already happening to those who lead connected personal lives; staying in touch on Facebook and Twitter has turned into a 24/7 practice detached from time or space. Now, B2B marketing is spilling out of the 9-5 office routine and consuming whatever is left of “me time”.
For a number of our clients the split between work and play is disappearing and there is little they can do about it, if they are to continue to add value to their organisation. It was bad enough when the recession shrunk marketing teams and increased workload for everyone who kept their jobs. Now, the goalposts are moving again; B2B companies are switching on their social side and (for the moment at least) the marketing function is picking up the tab. Blogging at 9pm, Tweeting at 11pm and back on answering emails at 6am is becoming a frequent affair. Emails I send (as I do occasionally) in the wee hours of the morning used to arrive at switched off PCs and laptops; these days many get responded to within minutes. As B2B organisations turn themselves inside out and use real people to front their communications, instead of corporate brochures or PR teams, the pressure to keep up with industry news, produce clever stuff to share and manage communities of clients, prospects, partners, suppliers and recruits is building up.
What is there to do?
- Pass it on to the next generation. For young, generation Y go-getters these new business demands won’t be much of a problem. For them, always-on connectivity is not an option, but the only way to be. Personal network management skills and know-how can be transferred to a business network and the technology required is not a hindrance but an invisible facilitator. Generation Y has begun to enter the workforce and is ready to put its natural, always-on networking capabilities to work.
- Take it on and exploit the opportunity to also push your personal brand. If the content you broadcast, the connections you make and the community management you do are signed with your name, alongside your organisation’s of course, then your personal brand will benefit as well.
- Be patient. As organisations turn from information silos to more personal and social creatures, ownership of all relevant activity will stop being the exclusive responsibility of the marketing team; instead it is likely to be shared amongst a number of other business functions as well, such as customer service, sales, HR or IT.