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Having a social media strategy is no longer enough in today's digital world. Companies need to prove that they are capable of making large corporate changes based on the new feedback they're getting from consumers, partners and clients. 

At AdAge Digital in New York on Tuesday, many companies were trying to prove that they have internalized the lessons of social media. As Claire Huang, Bank of America's Head of Marketing for Global Banking, put it:

"Our digital team works with PR, which works with marketing and advertising. We're all one team figuring out how to work for our clients."

The financial industry has regulatory hurdles when it comes to implementing digital and social technologies. That combined with Bank of America's size, work against innovation taking hold at the company. Says Huang:

"We can't overnight say we're going to use any of these great technologies withiout complying with the regulatory environment we're dealing with."

But the bank is fighting against those limitations by getting the whole company involved in their communcations strategy.

"We pulled together a cross functional team that can get new information to the public in four hours.... In a company with 300,000 people, it's harder to move nimbyl. But we have become a lot quicker."

Within the company, information moves much faster. Huang says:

"I'm now on a listening tour with the president of our wealth management business. During these listening tours, I put the information on an internal blog and all of my peers hear it within minutes."

The bank has 59 million "relationships" and 39 million people using its online banking interface. Social media has taught them that they need to work on communications and changing the way daily business is done. Says Huang:

"We have a ton of ways to get information back to the people who can make a difference."

Other speakers reiterated these thoughts. Erin Nelson, SVP and chief marketing officer at Dell, says that her company has "become the poster child for social media. Not by choice."

The company famously took a headfirst dive into social media brand maintenance when Jeff Jarvis had a bad experience with the company and took to social media to air his greivances, coining the term Dell Hell. According to Nelson, that kickstarted a transformation at the company:

 "Digital and social is spread across 95,000 team members. Everyone owns it."

Moreover, these companies are using lessons from social to fix internal problems. Nelson continued:

"We have internal social tools that we use to collaborate with each other. We're building it into our culture."

Similarly, Vivian Schiller, NPR's CEO, says that "digital and social are so incredibly part of our fabric."

Internalizing the lessons from social media is a trend happening in all sorts of sectors, and integral if companies expect their social efforts to work.

According to Tom Cunniff, VP of interactive communications for Combe Incorporated, people in the digital world have been cheering the growth of digital advertising over the past years, but "there's still this pesky little 79% that's not digital. You've got to put them together."

Similarly, companies are learning that a siloed social strategy is barely any strategy at all.

Meghan Keane

Published 13 April, 2010 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

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