Not a week goes by without publication of findings from a study or a survey confirming growing reach of Social Media channels. Latest in this series is findings by NielsenWire. As per this study, “global consumers spent more than five and half hours on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter in December 2009, an 82% increase from the same time last year”. This study further highlights that “Consumers in the U.S. continue to spend more time on social networking sites as well, with total minutes increasing 210% year-over-year and the average time per person increasing 143% year-over-year in December 2009. Year-over-year growth in average time spent by U.S. users, for both Facebook and Twitter.com, outpaced the overall growth for the category, increasing 200% and 368%, respectively” (for more see this link).
This study confirms the phenomenal growth in Social Media usage, not only in terms of number of users, but average amount of time spent by each user on social networking sites. There is a unique opportunity for marketers to leverage emerging media for Social CRM, which can be defined as business strategy of engaging customers through Social Media for building trust and brand loyalty.
But in spite of this clear opportunity, marketers have not allocated time or resources for engaging customers over Social Media channels. According to a survey of 124 chief marketing officers by The CMO Club and Hill & Knowlton, more than four out of five (84 percent) chief marketing officers (CMOs) allocate less than ten percent of their budgets to experimenting through social media and non-traditional communications channels, with more than half (55 percent) allocating just five percent or less. To the question “Does your brand have a web 2.0 communications policy?” almost half said either they don’t have or are currently developing one. Only 14% CMOs said that they were “proactive” about creating external brand advocates and leveraging them (detailed findings of the survey here).
In another study by Weber Shandwick for evaluating how effectively Fortune 100 companies used Twitter to its full potential as an engagement platform, it was found that “for the majority of Fortune 100 companies, Twitter remains a missed opportunity. Many of their Twitter accounts did not appear to listen to or engage with their readers, instead offering a one-way broadcast of press releases, company blog posts and event information. This falls short of the opportunity that Twitter offers as a valuable communications channel and strategic social network.”
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Results of a study by Burson-Marsteller on Fortune 100’s use of key Social Media Tools and another study on use of Social Media tools by CEOs of Fortune 100 companies are equally disappointing.
Findings of studies referred above clearly indicate that even large companies don’t get it when it comes to Social Media. Marketers are not having their eyes and ears on Social Media channels that are going to drive their business going forward.
It is very important that all senior executives (and especially the CMOs) start taking Social Media initiatives seriously. They should lead from the front when it comes to use of Social Media, as survival and growth of their business rests on how effectively they leverage emerging tech tools. As a first step in this direction, I strongly recommend that CMOs should:
- Have a Twitter account and start using it for communicating with customers and general public
- Monitor discussion regarding their company or brands on Social Media channels and if there are any legitimate issues, take it up with respective execs and make sure that they are resolved
- Should use feedback gained from Social Media channels and ask right questions during review meetings. This will send out clear message down the chain that senior execs are listening to customers on Social Media and line managers or customer support staff will be more responsive to handling customer issues via Social channels.
- Set up a Social Media Task force that will advise them on how to quickly adapt and integrate their marketing operations into emerging Social web applications
These are some of the Must Do items that every CMO should tackle right away. Sooner they adopt and start using Social Media for engaging their customers better for them, else performance of their business will suffer.
Dear CMOs, the choice is yours!