Dear CMOs, Wake up to Social Media challenge


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In my previous post titled What is Social CRM and why it is important, I have highlighted the phenomenal growth in number of Social Media users and importance of engaging customers through Social Media for building trust and brand loyalty.

Given statistically significant correlation between social media engagement and financial performance metrics – revenue and profit, one would expect CMOs to be busy making elaborate plans about engaging customers through Social Media, Right? WRONG!

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).

This lack of involvement on the part of CMOs contradicts with the growth of Social Media, not only in terms of users but time spent on it as well (see excellent post by Brian Solis on growth stats).

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.”

As per findings of two studies quoted above, we can see a major “disconnect” given the phenomenal growth in Social Media usage on one hand and lack of involvement of CMOs on the other. CMOs need to wake up to Social Media challenge NOW and lead from front, else they risk falling far behind other brands, not only in their industry, but across customers’ general online experience.

What do you think? What should CMOs do to engage their customers through Social Media for building Trust and Loyalty?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Harish Kotadia, Ph.D.
Dr. Harish Kotadia has more than twelve years' work experience as a hands-on CRM Program and Project Manager implementing CRM and Analytics solutions for Fortune 500 clients in the US. He also has about five years' work experience as a Research Executive in Marketing Research and Consulting industry working for leading MR organizations. Dr. Harish currently lives in Dallas, Texas, USA and works as a Practice Leader, Data Analytics and Big Data at a US based Global Consulting Company. Views and opinion expressed in this blog are his own.


  1. Marketing, as in listen first – talk later to customers is okay. Except when it is not enough. Marketing needs to engage the organization, too, so they “get it” and connect to customers the 2.0 way. What does the customer really want? How do we deliver what Marketing promises? The customer experience?

    Before challenging Customer-facing SocMedia as an organization, I believe a soft start with employee-facing internal SocMedia makes life easier. Going 2.0 can do more than reduce occupational spam and replace e-mail barrages with a collaboratory environment. As more people get comfortable with tools for and implications of working on-stage and in-public (hey, many do it off work already), barriers to engage more openly with customers get lowered.

    It remains a challenge, and a social media aware CMO can be the main driver, inside and out. Thanks for pulling the studies together.

  2. but of course, less then 10 percents of budget might be enough for some businesses who have skilled people. Why? Because only 25 % of people use that social media in a way that company has something of it. According to recent research of agency spending, 20 to 25 % of budget goes to social media. It can be powerful tool …but just don’t do over hype, its dangerous for young marketers.
    Leading by example is what we in marketing try to do. And evangelists are spoiling the job because of setting unrealistic expectations. Some businesses will still have greater impact with ppc considering ppl that will have to hire or train to engage in social media. Brand relevance? Of course. But it can be achieved with lesser effort.
    Overall this is the era of conversational marketing. Everyone should be involved, and prepared for it.

  3. Bernd NÜrnberger:

    Thanks for your comments. Yes, I agree that social media aware CMO can be the main driver and organizations can have a soft start with employee-facing internal SocMedia. This will eventually happen and if any organization resists this, market and technology will force the change.

    In my opinion, 2010-2012 are critical years for evolution and integration of Social Media. And yes, large Fortune 500 companies will eventually learn to dance to the tunes of SocMed.

    Thanks for your comments.

    Harish Kotadia

  4. Miss Cybernaut:

    Thanks for your comments. You are right in that each company needs to allocate budget for Social Media initiatives on the basis of profile of their customers and how extensively Social Media is used by them.

    Another point to note is that thanks to real time results from search engines such as Google, companies will be forced to use tools such Twitter. SEO is no longer enough, you need to have Social Media optimization too. This will force companies to make their presence felt on Social Media.

    And yes, hyping Social Media is not correct. People will get disillusioned and lose faith in the medium. Hope that doesn’t happen.

    Thanks for your comments,

    Harish Kotadia


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