One Size Doesn't Fit All for Social Media
Staffing: In-house vs. Outsourcing
This was a particularly contentious topic of debate at the CMO Club Summit in New York City last week. Frank Eliason, SVP of social media at Citibank, is a staunch advocate of handling social media in-house. Bringing many of the practices he pioneered while at Comcast to Citibank, Eliason emphasized the risks of outsourcing, citing the recent Chrysler Twitter debacle as case in point.
On the other side of the debate, Eva Press, brand director of Kraft's Oreo -- a phenomenally successful social brand with nearly 19 million "fans" on Facebook -- expressed "a tremendous amount of trust in [their] agency partners," describing them as "extensions of the brand team." To mitigate the risks, Press and her staff "spent a lot of time grounding the [external] team in what Oreo stands for."
Importance: Driving Force vs. Experimental Component
Hope Frank, CMO of WebTrends, described social media as "essential and deeply integrated." "Growing our communities, developing and curating compelling content, experimenting and innovating on social media is part of every effort we execute," explained Frank. Given that WebTrends is also in the business of monitoring the online conversation, its commitment to employing social media probably shouldn't come as a surprise.
For Grant Johnson, CMO of Pegasystems, a provider of business process solutions, social media is "a small spend today." Explained Johnson: "The biggest challenge with social media is measuring results back to customer interest and loyalty." Noting that Pega is "highly customer focused," Johnson added: "we're spending more time and effort on [social media] and the activity has ramped up fast."
Objectives: Acquisition vs. Retention
Pete Krainik, founder of The CMO Club, noted: "Social media has been the single most important vehicle for the growth of membership." Falling firmly in the acquisition camp, Krainik explained, "two out of every three new members in the club come from referrals and recommendations." For Krainik, social media also provides the ability for the club to fulfill its mission by facilitating meaningful conversations among CMOs online.
On the retention side, Kraft's Press shared some of the challenges of couponing via social media, noting that "it's important to understand your fans and what is meaningful to them in the context of your community. We have seen that our most loyal fans have responded very positively when we provide new product information, celebrate fan-generated content and spark conversation about the moments of childlike delight Oreo brings."
Drivers: Customer Service vs. Marketing
"I'm just a humble customer service guy," offered Citibank's Eliason, by way of explaining his approach to social media. Accordingly, he is looking to do for Citibank what @ComcastCares did for Comcast, establishing a team that can listen and respond to customer inquiries via social media 24/7. Pega's Johnson added that "social media is helping us better service our customers across channels and will improve service delivery and customer satisfaction in the future."
While Webtrends' Frank sees a role for social media in customer service by "monitoring and problem solving," she is clearly in the marketing camp. "We also use social media to extend the reach and impact of traditional marketing efforts to grow awareness among key influencers and prospects," explained Frank. Having tested "self-contained programs in Facebook," Frank and her team then took the findings and "applied them to broad-based marketing efforts."
Measurement: Reach vs. Engagement
While the notion of customer engagement permeates CMO conversations, there is a still a natural desire among marketers to use social to extend their reach. Kraft's Press noted that "social media can help amplify the programs we are doing in other places." Taking this one step further, Webtrends' Frank added, "we see the largest impact when we execute integrated ideas that launch with compelling content/experience, then leverage our media engine, then mix social to amplify the message and increase the value."
Concurrently, CMOs understand that reach without engagement is not ideal. Explained Krainik: "CMOs care about customer engagement and having a reason/vehicle for listening." Even Oreo, with its fan base of nearly 19 million, recognizes that it's "critical to see how meaningfully we are engaging with our fans because Oreo is so deeply loved." Concluded Frank: "In the early days, when we only pushed messages out, we experienced limited success."
Final Note: CMOs don't appear to be reaching any kind of social media fatigue, although Krainik sees CMOs moving "from social media to social marketing and social branding" and intends to make this a priority conversation at his October summit in L.A. In the meantime, you can find longer interviews with the quoted CMOs on TheDrewBlog.com.