Using social media to bring the outside in

Written by Vince Thompson, Contributing Editor

Dave Knox serves as P&G’s Corporate Marketing Brand Manager for Digital Business Strategy. Dave’s responsible for driving digital innovation and capability across P&G's 300+ brands worldwide. He’s also the author of the branding blog, HardKnoxLife.com, a frequent speaker on youth marketing and digital branding and was recently name by AdAge as “1 of 25 Media People You Should Follow on Twitter.

With Dave sitting at a nexus which includes the one of the world’s largest innovators and marketers (P&G), the wider technology community and a marketing world being reshaped by social media, I wanted to get his perspective on innovation and learn how is his own social media efforts keep him Smart.

Dave, you've referred to yourself as someone trying to be a technopologist, what’s that mean?

The Wall Street Journal originally coined the term “Marketing Technopologist” but I think it really sums up the mindset that all marketers should strive for today.   In its most simplistic description, a Marketing Technopologist combines the skills of a Marketer, Technologist, and Social Anthropologist.

As a Technologist, you might not be a “coder” but you know your way around the language and culture of tech.  You understand things like API and Open Source or why Facebook Connect working with Open ID is a big deal.  Through the lens of a Social Anthropologist, you can then look at that technology and understand the impact it will have on society and culture.  You can recognize that the technology behind the Social Graph can actually have a huge impact on how we make decisions or shop.  And finally, the marketer will build upon both of these elements, recognizing the business potential created.  You will be able to take these insights and find a way to connect them with your brand marketing.

That’s how I view a Marketing Technopologist.  It’s a person that understands the opportunities of technology, realizes the impact it will have on society, and then looks at the business and marketing opportunities both of these will create.

How does the intersection of technology, marketing and social interaction play in your work?

Frankly this convergence is becoming more and more important every day. But at the same time, it is a new skill set for many marketers to learn.  After all, it was only a decade ago that the marketing toolkit for a Brand Manager was limited to 4 choices (TV, Print, Out of Home & Radio).  And those 4 choices had not changed dramatically in over 30 years.  But today, new technology is emerging every day, offering new ways to serve and engage people more effectively.  At work we aim to use these new digital tools to continue to be a leader and innovator in marketing and digital business.

I can see how social media plays a role in marketing. Does it play a role in product design and innovation?

Social Media plays a tremendous role in these areas.  Big brands / companies have been actively embracing Social Media for product design and innovation.  The best known examples can be found in platforms such as MyStarbucksIdea.com and Dell IdeaStorm.com.   And there are even entire companies such as Innocentive.com based on using crowdsourcing (a form of social media).

Tell us about your blog and how it fits in with your career?

Hard Knox Life is about the intersection of Marketing, Media and Technology.  In other words, it is about how about how Brand Managers need to start thinking like a Marketing Technopologist.   But really the blog is about helping me becoming a better marketer by having a place to test ideas and stretch my thinking.  When working for a big corporation, you have an amazing amount of resources at your fingertips.  And you are surrounded by incredibly smart people.  But most of these people have a similar background to you and are trained to approach problems in the same way.  My blog has helped me by giving me access to people with different backgrounds and views on the business world.  It is a way to connect with these people outside of my day to day work and really get a set of different viewpoints on what is going on with marketing.

Since innovation requires you to do things differently how do you step beyond the community to get unique ideas?

I once read a quote from Doug Hall that said “Don't be afraid to take risks. Corporations have an amazing array of checks, balances, and safety nets to prevent you from hitting the wall at ninety miles an hour. Be bold and brash. Develop a reputation for it.”  From my standpoint, that is how innovation happens.  If every idea is run through a committee and validated with consumer research, you will just end up with a watered down idea.  Take risks with unique ideas and see what happens.  In this digital world, failing doesn’t mean defeat...but the key is being able to fail fast so you can get on to the next idea.

What are big ways in which you see marketing changing?

Robert Liodice, CEO of ANA said that “The amount of change in marketing over the past 3 – 5 years probably equals the amount of change over the past 30 years.”  Well I think the change in marketing over the next 3 – 5 years is going to be even more, probably equaling the change in the last 100 years.  At the center of that is going to be the impact of mobile. I don’t think we have even started to scratch the service on that one.  Second is going to be consumer co-creation / crowdsourcing.  A real change is under foot when a couple of guys in Muncie, Indiana can produce a TV spot for Doritos that is rated tops in the Super Bowl.  Finally, I think the importance of entertainment is going to continue to grow.  For the past 50 years, marketers were able to interrupt entertainment (ie TV shows) with advertising.  But in a world where consumers don’t have to put up with the interruption any longer, brands are going to have to start thinking different about content and entertainment.

What’s been your best business move this year?

It is hard to say what my best business move has been because many of the bets are still on the table so to speak.  But if I had to pick a theme, I would say my best move has been my commitment to stay active in social media through my blog and twitter.  With all-day meetings, travel and other commitments, it is easy to let those things fall off the list.  But my external network has emerged as my business filter, allowing me to sort through the noise and keep on top of what is really important.  While it might save time in the short-term to slow down in social media, I think it would hurt me in the long term in terms of personal growth and knowledge.

Has your knowledge of technology allowed you to spend less time online or just do more? What tips can you share for those of us looking to accomplish more in less time?

Technology allows me to do more.  And that is a good thing because when it comes to accomplishing more in less time, I find that to be a myth…at least for me.  I’m the type that if I find a more efficient way to do something online, I just spend more time doing other things online.  But that is a pretty common trait.  After all, there is an old theory in retail that if you get someone done with their shopping list quickly, they will spend more time shopping your store.  It’s the theory that people devote a certain time to the shopping trip so they will fill that time instead of just leaving the store if they get done quickly.  The same thing applies to me online.

What are you latest favorite websites and technologies?

Most people are surprised that I just now got an Apple iPhone when the 3GS was released.  I wasn’t a believer at first but now that I own one, I am amazed at how it has changed my life.  Apps like Evernote, FourSquare, and TripIt just make everything that much easier.  And even my old favorites of LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Reader are enhanced with the iPhone experience.  Outside of the iPhone, the other technology that really jumps out to me is Aardvark (www.vark.com).  For anyone that hasn’t tried Aardvark, it changes how you find answers to questions.  And it is pretty addicting as well.  I find myself always looking at the latest questions that pop up in my Gmail Chat from the site.

To visit Dave's Blog Hard Knox Life: Click Here

To follow Dave on Twitter: Click Here

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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