Social Media – Key Marketing Tactic for Staying Competitive

Carabiner’s Director of New Media, Kathy Cabrera, interviews Marva Bailer of IBM’s NA Smarter Planet Industry Leader Software Group (on Twitter @marvabailer) on why social media is a key marketing tactic for staying competitive for today’s CMOs.

I recently served on a social media panel at an Executive Sales & Marketing Association meeting with Marva Bailer, who is with IBM’s NA Smarter Planet Industry Leader Software Group. The panel’s topic, “Social Media: It’s Not Going Away – Make It Work for You,” pretty much said it all. Social media has become the rising communication tool with which everyone must contend.

The undeniable importance of social media for companies today was also reflected in insights from IBM’s Global CMO study that Marva highlighted during her talk. The study was based on conversations with more than 1,700 CMOs worldwide. In response to questions on which factors would have the most impact on the marketing organization over the next three to five years (and how prepared responders believed they were to manage the impact of those factors), CMOs identified “data explosion” and “social media” as the top two. Amazingly, the key areas of under preparedness that were identified by the survey were the same areas CMOs said were most critical to enabling their marketing agendas.

There you have it – even at the CMO level, social media is perceived to be the tool companies must finally master to stay ahead.

Another relevant survey finding: When asked what their priorities were as they tried to manage the shift toward digital technologies, over 70 percent of U.S.-based CMOs stated they would be using social media as a key engagement channel. What Marva said to this point during her presentation accurately sums up what I also see many sales and marketing leaders grappling with in their organizations. Specifically, she said, “they believe it will be a challenge to develop the governance, policies and guidelines required for the social media channel, but it is also a necessary one.”

What do these findings – including social media being an absolutely necessary challenge – mean to me as an advisor to startups, entrepreneurs and B2B-focused companies?

They back up the belief I’ve been espousing since 2009 – that social media is not only a new form of communication to get your message out there, but is also the form of communication that will define how your company builds relationships with prospects and customers moving forward.

I’ve noticed in the last 16 to 24 months especially that many in companies at the CMO level are acting on the importance social media plays in their marketing mix. This is definitely promising behavior and a move in the right direction. At the end of the business day, however, there are still many more benefits of social media that will only be realized when companies master a cultural shift within their organizations. This shift must be to incentivize, empower and catalyze their customer-facing staff to engage in one-to-one relationships with the brand’s audience using social media tools.

Question: How do you encourage your staff to engage in social media on your company’s behalf? 

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