Regardless of their product, CMOs must become obsessed with three kinds of data to make sure any social media campaign contributes to the company's profitability:
Whether representing bananas or boats, CMOs must first be sure they know where their customers shop and whether or not their inventory reaches them. No sense in piling up boats in Iowa when your demand is in Florida. While that's a silly and obvious example, many still miss the point, leaving such data in the finance departments. When reviewing data, CMOs first need to start with their internal data. Are they promoting their products in the right markets and then ensuring appropriate distribution to those markets?
While chasing after Facebook statistics might be the most tempting, there is no place like home when it comes to ensuring the foundations of your business.
A CMO may find that no one in the company really knows if distribution really reflects demand in any given market. The auto industry, for example, might have a hard time building ROI models for its ad campaigns if it has no idea how many cars any one distributor sells.
Sure, the retailer supposedly keeps track of what sells, but most likely it does not know the market potential, and sometimes the corporate office does not maintain accurate figures. CMOs must begin by finding and reviewing all of their in-house data and filling in any holes.
Gathering marketing data starts with the customer. Consumer studies syndicated or analyzed with segmentation and cross tabbing tools can provide many insights. From understanding who the biggest users are to niche targets who might have been missed by passed data reviews and more.
As social media continues to proliferate, CMOs will need to find their most sociable targets. Word-of-mouth has always been important in advertising because people trust their friends more than sponsored messages. With social media, consumers are creating content and passing along brand information faster than ever. Not only can consumers spread the word, they can now spread the actual message. When looking through data, CMOs want to find their most social and receptive targets not simply their heaviest users.
Assuming everyone has a handle on distribution and target analysis data, how does one keep up with social media?
It's about obtaining and using constant streams of fresh data that show where current and potential customers spend their time. They need to be looking at which channels their targets consume, how often, how long, etc. So, CMOs need data that not only tells them what media (including social) people consume, but how long they spend with each media. Metrics such as engagement, receptiveness, and sociability will all become increasingly relevant. Social media sites like Facebook have a very sound knowledge of their visitors, much more solid than a web log. Facebook users tend to be honest about their age and gender as well as their geography.
Of course, syndicated web data such as comScore, Netratings, and Quantcast can also tell brands how relevant social media might be for their target.
CMOs will also want to keep a close eye on the buzz around their product. If they are representing a major brand such as Toyota Prius, there's bound to be web chatter. CMOs want to subscribe to a service that measures the amount of the buzz, whether that buzz is positive or negative, and shows where that buzz is located. Depending on the conversation, the brand might want to jump in directly to the conversation, speaking to customers or simply use the information to launch a social media campaign.
In sum, remember the fundamentals. Make sure you know who you are reaching and that distribution meets that demand. Ask social media sites directly for their stats on your target, subscribe to a syndicated web data provider that also asks "time spent" questions and, finally, if it's a big or popular brand, subscribe to an on-line buzz service so you know what people are saying about your brand.
Then, hop in and join the dialog or create a campaign based on what you learn!