Nike Brings Social Media In-House

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MarketingWeek reports that Nike (NYSE: NKE) has taken its social media marketing management in-house and is responsible for all online communities. Nike has dropped its digital advertising agencies (such as AKQA, Wieden & Kennedy, Mindshare, and R/GA) in an effort to better understand and to get closer to its fans.

This decision by Nike is part of a broader change in order to gain a deeper understanding on how their consumers interact with the brand on social media; be it a branded social network like NikePlus, but also third party social networks. In my view, this is not just a case of getting a deeper understanding, but also to become more efficient and effective in marketing execution and innovation. Think for instance of Nike+ Accelerator program, boosting digital sports innovation, when having all these projects in-house, cross-pollination happens faster, better, and cheaper. Chances that the program will have social media elements are a virtually certainty.

Tesco (LSE: TSCO) and Reebok (owned by ADIDAS AG (NASDAQOTH: ADDYY)) are, according to MarketingWeek, "thought to be pursuing similar strategies in the hope of boosting brand loyalty through online chatter." It's interesting that Tesco is taking this strategy as well, because one of the challenges for retail is to be useful. How to integrate and align social to the business better can be achieved faster by taking the 'subject' in-house.

Changing role of agencies

The supply side digital agencies experience the changing role in managing social media (and digital in general, for that matter) as companies themselves get more experienced in strategy creation. I think this is a logical consequence for anything that important that it will be brought in-house.  I've been a digital consultant myself for six years, and there was always a constant need to prove the added value by an agency, as most of the clients had their internal team.

I agree with Roger Warner, director at social media agency Beyond who said:

Three years ago most brands didn’t really have a clear understanding of the impact social media would have on internal resources or their marketing strategies. Fast-forward and there are now roles in marketing departments focused solely on sharing and publishing content all the time. The smarter agencies have figured out that their value in the mix is on the idea rather than the day-to-day community management.

It’s not only the idea, but agencies and consultants should(?) become more of an advisor on the lookout for new developments and so forth and how all these fit or don’t fit within the organization, its strategy and value proposition. Personally I think this is much for a win-win and better use of capabilities. Agencies can advise on channel or medium, companies can fulfill their part from the business itself.

In a time where relationship management is a key task for marketing, the middleman (the agency or consultant) can always bring up hiccups in terms of approach, tone of voice, and so forth. We at Damarque believe in teaching organizations to fish themselves instead of fishing for them. We believe much more in short interventions where we help and support organizations in their quest to solve the challenge.

Skills & priority versus outsourcing or in-house

As written above, as soon as a company acquires the internal capabilities and it’s important enough, it will be insourced. When companies don’t have the internal capabilities, but the subject is important to the company, it can train to get the capabilities or outsource it. If it’s not important enough, it should indeed outsource the subject.

This means that companies that do take it in-house have a double advantage, first because they can move faster internally than constantly communicating to an external company, secondly because the output is richer as effect of the first point.

My advice is, if you can you execute internally when you have the right capabilities, do it!

What do you think of Nike’s move?

GLCuccureddu has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Nike. The Motley Fool owns shares of Nike and Tesco. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!

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