For more than a decade, I have worked with organizations seeking a digital strategy integrated with their traditional outreach. Many also need help with managing the daily digital outflow — social media, email, video, blogs, etc.
After having been one of the first Chief Digital Officers for any major public relations firm, I realized that what these clients of mine really needed was a CDO. But most simply couldn’t afford to hire a full-time digital expert with the level of experience needed to blend business leadership with digital acumen. After all, a CDO only really achieves maximum success when surrounded by a talented support team to manage projects, conduct outreach, create content, and more.
This realization led me to focus the consulting firm I founded, Franeo, on providing a Virtual Chief Digital Officer service for non-profits, associations, and businesses that would benefit from an outsourced team approach to digital strategy and leadership.
As a vCDO, I work with the leadership of our client organizations to figure out how we can use technology to better achieve the goals and key performance indicators that they focus on. For some of our clients, they simply outsource the entire digital communications component to Franeo. Others have in-house staff that work on digital projects, and we integrate with their efforts, providing high-level strategic advice and direction.
The vCDO isn’t a social media consultant or web developer. The role requires a blend of business experience and technological know-how. It is just as important to know what not to do as it is to manage content production and marketing. As a vCDO, I focus on leveraging available resources, meeting budgets, training staff, coordinating with legal teams, managing vendors, and all of the other things that I did as a full-time Chief Digital Officer. And just as I did as an in-house CDO, I have a team to support my efforts on behalf of clients.
The main difference between a vCDO and a CDO is the accessibility of the services to organizations with smaller budgets or shorter timelines. At a fraction of the cost of hiring a full-time CDO, with all of the associated overhead expenses, along with the salaries of a support team to implement the vision, my clients receive many of the same benefits.
Since we take a team approach to the vCDO service, they’re not just acquiring a digital brain to help them navigate this world without fear (Franeo itself is an anagram of “no fear”), they’re also getting the arms and legs needed to meet the content and outreach demands of the modern digital and social media ecosystem.
From a personal standpoint, I enjoy the challenge of working with so many interesting clients with so many different challenges. It enables me to learn from my consulting relationships with each client and apply those lessons to the work I do for all of my clients — a “win-win” as folks like to say.
With the pace of change in digital communications and the number of different challenges and opportunities my clients face, I know that no two days will be the same. That’s probably the best part of the job.