Large and medium size companies are reporting larger budgets for social media and online video than ever before, along with a commitment to measure social media ROI that should encourage even more spending. Yet one recent study on the Chief Marketing Officers with Fortune 100 Companies may have revealed some startling news: Most of the top CMOs in charge of social media budgets and marketing strategies do not actually use or actively engage with social media, themselves. Learn from my interviews with one of the facilitators of that report and a fellow social video analyst on why it’s imperative for CMOs and other C-level executives to finally get personally involved with social media, and the big market advantage for CMOs to be participating in “social video.”
Spending on Social Media on the Rise in 2011
A social video marketing survey released in February by Bazaarvoice reported that 93% of surveyed marketers have social media campaigns planned for 2011, much of it incorporating video and other custom content. Of those respondents, 81% say they intend to track how social media impacts revenue in 2011. (As marketers well know, the ability to track ROI is of key importance for proof of campaign performance, and to justify an increased allocation of the company’s marketing budget to social media.)
“CMOs have moved beyond fear and skepticism to embrace social media as the source for strategic intelligence that can transform their products, brands and business,” says Bazaarvoice’s own CMO, Erin Mulligan Nelson. “Social is much more than a campaign; it is now a launch pad for innovation.”
Another report released earlier this year by MarketingSherpa declared that social media budgets are expected to increase in 53% of the organizations surveyed.
“US marketers will spend $3.08 billion to advertise on social networking sites this year,” according to eMarketer. “Spending will be up 55% over the $1.99 billion advertisers devoted to social networks in 2010 and will rise by a further 27.7% next year to reach nearly $4 billion.”
The main cause for the increased spend and marketing activity with social media is a very obvious one that doesn’t require a marketing background (but still good to have a marketing analyst explain it clearly). “It’s a massive shift in consumer behavior – from consumption of information from traditional media sources to information and content found in social media and networks.” Says Mark Fidelman, a social business strategy blogger and one of the chief facilitators of a recently released social marketing study, The Top 20 Social CMO’s of The Fortune 100. “The goal then becomes one of engagement with potential and current customers at all times.”
Fidelman says their Top 25 Social CMO list (which you can view in full at the link above) was created to highlight Chief Marketing and Communication Executives that are not only using social tools, but are being recognized by consumers as positive influencers on their brands.
Few Fortune 100 CMOs are Leveraging “Social Video”
While no data on video was included in their report, Fidelman did share with me that they found that of the few Social CMOs who were using video, “chances are that they had a better reaction, overall.”
“Video is a platform that provides multi-sensory impact – the visual, the audio, and especially if they have the video transcribed. It’s much more engaging, so they get a better reaction out of it.” says Fidelman. He believes that CMOs doing social video would generate a much stronger reaction/response effect, considering their high-level stature in their own company, and their large influence amongst their peers in their own industry as well as consumers.”
“Admittedly, even the top social CMO in our Fortune 100 research aren’t that social compared to some of the thought leaders that are out there; they’re a long way from the thought leaders of today (like social video marketer and popular author, Gary Vaynerchuk.) But for those that are participating, they now have seemed to have started to leverage video.” says Fidelman.
Social Media Communications Advantages for Executive Marketers
Fidelman shared with me a couple clear-cut advantages he sees with incorporating executive level managers into social media communications over traditional media:
- Influence and Importance. The obvious assessment is CMOs are the top dog at their own companies. They hold the biggest authority and reach on their company’s marketing and communications, and are in a great position to attract visibility and interest in their by simply participating in the social media space. “These CMOs got to their position for a number of reasons; they are interesting people, they are influential people, they have great content to share.” Just by showing a willingness to participate in the social media space, they already can create a positive influence on their company’s brand.”
- More personal consumer relationships. “Unlike traditional media, marketers can have real one-on-one discussions with their community by leveraging social media tools. This is an incredible advantage over those executives still relying on traditional, indirect ways of reaching their consumers.” Says Fidelman. “Social media is a differentiator that facilitates and accelerates word of mouth marketing. There’s nothing more valuable.”
The Big Problem with CMOs and Social Media Marketing Today
Yet despite these Fortune 100 companies’ big spending push and plans for following closer attention to measuring social media ROI, Fidelman’s survey reported that CMOs by-and-large still do not embrace social business as part of their own communications activities.
The Top 20 Social CMO Guide reported this sobering statistic: 15 percent of executives CMOs and Chief Communication Officers (CCOs) in Fortune 100 companies have a net zero social footprint. What that means is that they’re not personally engaged with social media, or with emerging social media trends at all. That means no posts by them on either Twitter, Facebook, or a corporate blog; and no content even featuring them in the companies YouTube channel or other online video platform and video distribution sites. Even just simply responding to any audience members posting questions about the company or to them directly on any social media channels available oftentimes proves futile.
When it comes to social media, “The Fortune 100 chiefs (themselves) seem to be personally absent.” concurs Rich Fahle, founder of Astral Road Brand Media and contributing writer for the Video Commerce Consortium in his recent article, “Giant Social Media Red Flag: Is Your CMO Tuned Out?” “They appear to operate with a ‘do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do’ mentality.”
“If the Fortune 100 are any indication, the investment in Social is being led by a group of people that have remarkably little personal experience in Social Media and Social Networks. Does that make sense?” says Fidelman.
What’s Behind CMO’s Lack of Participation in Social Video?
Fahle says it’s commonly a challenge of marketers and content strategists in a midsize-to-large company with getting their CMO and CCO to participate in the company’s own social media communications. He, Fidelman, and I generally agree that the challenges with getting CMOs to participate in their own company’s social media marketing activities to be a combination of any of these things:
- A lack of awareness about their potential power in generating an audience for their company in the social media space.
- A lack of time – it’s one more thing to add to their already extremely busy schedule, and treated as not the best use of their time. These types of CMOs believe that their time should be spent just on developing and implementing strategy, rather than taking the time to personally be a part of that strategy in action.
- Perceived risk mitigation. Some of the apprehension for top-level executives with participating in social media is due to Sarbanes Oxley, the legislation considered responsible for a down-turn in corporate risk taking.
- Challenge of tracking social media returns. According to the same eMarketer report, most marketers have been unsuccessful or still are somewhat uncertain on how they’ll actually measure the impact of social media.
- Easier to make excuses for not participating – “Some of the concerns (by CMOs) are founded, but most just are an excuse not to engage.” says Fidelman.
Reasonable or not, companies will find that their CMO’s lack of participation in social media will present a serious problem with their own marketing efforts. If the CMO, CCO, or anyone filling those shoes don’t actually pay attention to social media and don’t participate in social media, then they can’t be in a good position to steer their company with a social media marketing strategy.
“The giant red flag here is that, if the Chief Marketers and Communicators do not understand how social media can be part of an integrated marketing/communications strategy, then how will the rest of the organization?” says Fahle.
Fidelman agrees. “Social consumers are relying on their social networks and social media to make purchase decisions. As more do, companies caught without a clear and effective social strategy from their leaders will become less competitive.” He says. “If you aren’t active in social media and you don’t actually participate, then you don’t truly comprehend its power.”
Is A Lack of Time What’s Stopping Them From Doing Social Video?
“CMOs are going to argue that they don’t have the time to do social media. But I’ve been in their shoes in a publicly-traded company; and I know that when you have something as a priority and are doing a good budget spend, you simply make the time.” says Fidelman. “You as a CMO should especially know that you have to do that, because how are you instructing, whether it’s an agency or your staff, how to use these social media channels, if you’re not doing it yourself? If they don’t see that old traditional marketing is dying and that social media is going to replace that, then they’re going to be in trouble.”
What’s Needed for CMOs? A “Social Video” Exercise Plan
It’s a good start for CMOs at Fortune 100 companies to have embraced social media marketing with increased spending and an expressed commitment to better performance tracking. But they’re akin to a parent who decides to sign up their kids for a gym membership, yet drops their kids off at the gym without joining them in the exercises. Without participating in the exercises along with them, they won’t demonstrate the type of leadership and support the kids will need with sticking to the exercise plan.
Now I realize that’s not a perfect analogy since we’re talking about grown adults here. But the bottom line is this: When it comes to social media, the CMOs at these Fortune 100 companies just aren’t practicing what they’re preaching; and even the ones who are practicing social media aren’t leveraging it anywhere near as much as they could be. But fortunately, I have discussed some ideas with my fellow social media analysts on how you and I can get that to change.
Next time, I will be showcasing some ideas for how to get your CMO, CCO, and even your CEO to participating in social video marketing. Do you have you have any ideas of your own that you’d like to share? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject title, “Social Video Tips for Executives.” If I like your ideas, I’ll share them in my article and attribute them to you, with a link back to your own site.
Let’s make it the start of building the very first “social video” exercise plan that can get your CMO and other marketing executives into great shape!