CMOs On Social Media: Do As I Say

Top marketers from around the world and across industries recognize the growing importance of social media in their jobs, but they’re not necessarily following such social media themselves.

According to a new IBM study of 1,700 chief marketing officers from 64 countries and across 19 industries, 82% of CMOs said they plan to increase their use of social media over the next three to five years. However, only 26% said they’re currently tracking blogs, 42% are tracking third-party reviews and 48% are tracking the consumer reviews to help shape their marketing programs. (Comparatively, 80% rely on market research and corporate benchmarking as their primary sources for feedback; 68% use sales campaign analysis to make strategic decisions.)

“When we asked them specifically what they’re looking at. They’re very still focused on traditional market sources and less focused on digital sources they could be looking at to know what people are thinking,” Carolyn Heller Baird, CRM research lead for the IBM Institute for Business Value and global director of the study, tells Marketing Daily. “We think this is something they need to pay a lot more attention to. What that requires is a shift of priorities and investment. They’re kind of in the middle of that transformation now.”



That transformation, which IBM likened to that of the chief financial officer role moving from mere accountant to trusted business advisor, will require that companies and their marketing departments acknowledge that the relationship with the consumer has fundamentally changed from a top-down approach to a more collaborative approach. Yet half of the CMOs interviewed don’t currently feel prepared to manage the market forces shaping their industries. That means many of them will have to make fundamental changes to the ways they market their brands and their products.

And in doing so, they’re going to have to change their marketing evaluation methods. While nearly two-thirds (63%) of CMOs, think the return on their marketing investment will be the primary measure of effectiveness by 2015, nearly half (44%) don’t currently feel prepared to provide hard numbers.

“Traditionally, that’s something they haven’t had to produce,” Baird says. “What we’re suggesting is they need to make sure they have the right tools, technologies and people with the right skill sets [so] that they are able to communicate back to the business in terms that the business wants to hear.”

And even if they can provide those hard numbers, many CMOs don’t feel they have enough influence to make radical change within a company. Less than half of the CMOs surveyed, for instance, felt they had sway over the pricing process and even fewer felt they had any impact on new product development or retail channel selection.

“We’re suggesting they need to have more influence,” Baird says. “They are the ones collecting customer data. They need to be able to use that information to provide insight into other areas …  It doesn’t mean the CMO is responsible for [research and development] or that he or she owns it; it’s that he or she has some influence over it.”

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