When a CMO says “social media”, what do they mean?

When it comes to the biggest threats and opportunities for CMOs, social media data are right up there, according to IBM’s recent global survey of 1,700 CMOs, which Maddy blogged about here last week.

The most proactive CMOs are trying to understand individuals as well as markets. Customer intimacy is crucial – and CEOs know it.

At Brilliant Noise, we often say “social is a proxy” when it comes to businesses talking about their issues. A lot of the time, when a CMO demands action on social media, there are a lot of other related issues on their mind.

These are some of the things we think social ends up being a synonym for:

  • Complexity
  • Digital
  • Earned Media
  • Platforms, i.e. Facebook or Twitter
  • The unknown

On that last point I noticed a quote in the IBM paper which underlines it nicely…

Reflecting on the impact of social media, an aerospace and defence CMO in the United States warned, ‘The risk is huge, whether you touch it or not. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you reduce the risk by not trying to manage it.’

The unknown is both what social media will become, what it may mutate into, and what the current consequences of it are for organisations. Social media marketing experts sometimes gleefully point to 4chan, Anonymous and Wikileaks as evidence of the Great Disruption they are in the business of helping people deal with. If your job is about risk, or security, or compliance, they are a real and present nightmare

When it comes to fast-paced, hyperconnected world of today, things are so volatile and complex that we end up not being able to name them well. “Social media” ends up being the catch-all term.

Back the IBM CMO report. Its finding is that CMOs should – and many want to – prioritise the following three things…

  • Deliver value to empowered customers
  • Foster lasting connections
  • Capture value and measure the results of their efforts.

All of these priorities point to earned media – social media, content, PR and search engines – having very important roles to play. The priorities are driven by digital, and yet…

You can download IBM’s CMO survey report – “From Stretched to Strengthened” for free. We highly recommend doing so.