Forget BYOD – For Marketers It’s Bring Your Own Life

Just about everyone has heard about the Bring Your Own Device trend by now.

More and more enterprise employees are insisting on using their own phones, laptops, and tablets rather than relying on outmoded company hardware.  But when it comes to some industries, such as marketing, employees aren’t just arriving with their own devices. They’re arriving with their own social followings and networks, their own blogs, their own apps,  and even, sometimes, their own knowledge base.

They don’t want to leave all of these media tools back at home any more than they want to leave their tablets and laptops sitting on their couches.

This new trend, call it Bring Your Own Life, has come as a shock to  enterprise marketing departments that have spent decades honing their centralized processes and systems. But companies trying to slow down the movement are fighting a losing battle. The best approach, for all parties, is to get serious about understanding what Bring Your Own Life involves. Let’s take a look at three key components of this transformational trend.

Bring Your Own Fans

It’s no secret that one of the best things a young journalist can do for his or her career is build a large Twitter following. Media companies have come to appreciate the value of an employee who can tweet out company content to thousands of fans. But, perhaps ironically, a lot of marketing teams have been slow to see that the Twitter accounts and blogs of key employees are often more valuable than company accounts. After all, when they’re looking for thought leadership, most marketers are more likely to following an individual than a company.

At my company, Chango, we encourage employees to keep their own accounts active. And so when Dax Hamman became Chango’s chief revenue officer, he didn’t shut down his blog. Instead, he began publishing posts related to Chango’s work, and, in the process, became a thought leader in our field and a very valuable asset to our marketing team.

Bring Your Own Apps

Within the Bring Your Own Life trend, Bring Your Own Apps (BYOA) is perhaps the most talked-about component.  It usually starts with a small group of employees who are using a tool that can’t live without, say Dropbox for sharing files. At first the enterprise IT team is not amused. The IT guys think the cloud-based tools aren’t secure enough and try to keep everyone using the outmoded file-sharing system. Then more and more employees begin to complain that they can’t use the apps that make their lives so much easier. Smart IT teams recognize that they need to find a way to make these popular tools more secure. Smart employees, likewise, recognize that they need to work with the IT team if they want to keep their favorite apps.

At the micro level, the same thing is happening within marketing departments. Employees who are HootSuite or TweetDeck pros will arrive on the scene only to discover that the company is using a similar enterprise tool that probably costs a fortune to license and doesn’t work half as well. This can be especially true when it comes to expensive and complicated enterprise analytics dashboards that can’t do much more than Chartbeat or Google Analytics.

Bring Your Own Knowledge Base:

Not too long ago, a marketer at an enterprise company had relatively few outlets for cutting edge insights on the industry.  Marketers would get together regularly and share best practices because there was simply no other reliable source for inside knowledge. And yet while conferences remain important, an increasing number of marketers now rely on third-party knowledge networks. They might post questions for other marketers on Quora or pose questions for industry thought leaders on Twitter.

The days of dismissing this type of “outside” knowledge are over—or they will be soon. Marketers today have direct access to a wide range of experts, and it only makes sense to allow them to take advantage of this access and bring new thinking into the company. Because whether it’s knowledge, apps, or fans, employees are going to cling to the things they love—which also happen to be the things that work best. The Bring Your Own Life movement is here to stay.