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Trendwatch: How could agile marketing apply to social media, PR, SEO and content?

Posted by Ian McKee on 1st August 2013

Since the birth of the Lean Startup movement just about everyone in business is starting to apply the principles beyond tech startups, making sure they’re lean enough to pivot at any moment and sticking the word ‘agile’ on the front of everything.
There’s agile development, agile project management, agile finance, agile testing and naturally, now there’s agile marketing.

The lean model is all about stripping away the unnecessary from a business process in order to be able to adapt on the fly, to the intelligence learnt from moving quickly and not overcommitting in terms of resource.

That agile approach is now getting applied to marketing, where it makes a lot of sense. Do more, more often, don’t over commit, analyse results as you go so you learn what works fast and can do more of it.

So how does that work in real terms?

Agile social media

Social media seems to be the area where agile marketing gets talked about most, and where there are plenty of real examples. Oreo is one example of a brand that is brilliantly opportunist in its use of social media. The ‘you can still dunk in the dark’ image posted to twitter during the Super Bowl power out is probably the most cited example of agile marketing.

This kind of reactionary approach to social media does not work without agility. In social media, minutes count, so it wouldn’t be possible to do this kind of activity with a strict content calendar and a hefty approvals process. It requires whoever is managing your social media channels to have the creative freedom to take advantage, fast, in order to reap the benefits (or to completely bomb!).

Agile PR

Like many marketing trends, the funny thing about agile marketing in relation to PR is that it isn’t really such a new thing. PR professionals have been newsjacking for years; the difference is just that now we get to call it ‘agile PR’.

Jumping on a news story has always required a decent quick response time, and that is increasingly the case as online and social media continue to decrease the lifespan of a news story. The same principles apply as in social media; monitor heavily, avoid a long approvals process, move fast, move often and learn what works.

Agile SEO

This one could be a slippery slope to planet linkbait. The principle being to react quickly to the latest trends in search, posting content optimised for whatever’s on the rise. The likes of Mashable are often accused of pandering to this a little too much, and it can result in content that’s appealing to a lowest common denominator.

Done intelligently though, there’s nothing wrong with researching what your potential audience are interested in at any given time, and making sure that you are equipped to react quickly to that. Watch Google Trends, including its handy new category charts and visualisation tool, and if you spot a topic on the rise that’s relevant and you have something interest to say about it, go ahead and capitalise with some fresh content.

Agile content and email marketing

Agile content marketing could be a combination of all of the above, but I think there are additional points to be made about how you allocate resource, taking a lean approach to content.

Firstly, we all know only too well how difficult it is to get cut through with your content. As every business comes to publishing branded content your audience has an increasingly short time span. So it makes sense to make yours short and snappy anyway, but this also helps with your agile approach. Don’t pile months and months of work into a 30-page report, just create lots of short, snappy digestible content. Make it good, but make it fast, make it often, learn what works and do more of that.

There’s also the question of how you get your content out there. We’ve mentioned the channels of social, PR and SEO, but it’s worth mentioning that there’s a marketing automation and email element here too.

Several email marketing experts have been saying recently that you should send more email. Of course they would say that, and it’s a controversial statement – surely there should be less email marketing, and it should be more personalised and targeted. But the point is the more you send, the more you learn about what your audience responds to, and the more you can segment and personalise, increasing volume and effectiveness. Use a marketing automation tool to take out a lot of the hard work for you and this again becomes not unlike an agile marketing approach.

photo credit: flickrfavorites

Ian McKee

Ian started out his career working in travel PR, working for tourist boards, airlines and hotel groups. Whilst there he carved out a position as a digital communications expert, managing social media, SEO and email marketing campaigns for clients.