What CMOs Are Thinking About Social Media
What CMOs Think About Social Media
What CMOs Think About Social Media

One of my favorite and most often used pieces of research when speaking about social media marketing is a bit of data from a 2010 Bazaarvoice survey of chief marketing officers and their expectations for the use of social media. Back then, the fastest-growing metrics identified as critical for a company’s social media marketing efforts were revenue, conversions and average order value.

The reason I loved the research so much is that when you threw those three metrics at most “social media gurus” they looked at you like you had three heads. When you’re not groomed in marketing and business and you believe that “joining the conversation” is all there is to social media, you don’t get very far with company CMOs or other executives.

The Bazaarvoice survey is out again for 2011 and again offers some neat insights into the mindset of the decision-makers for marketing budgets. On Feb. 2, the company is going to go through their results in a free webinar. I strongly encourage you to attend so that you can either A) Know what CMOs (read: clients) want or expect; or B) Can see what your fellow marketers are expecting out of social today.

Bazaarvoice CMO Survey - Activities that bring value

My first read through the report found the following insights and what you can use them for in the coming months:

  • CMOs are more clear than ever before that they want to measure sales conversion and revenue drivers. When you add the word “marketing” to “social media” its about business. Draw that line to the bottom line, or go home.
  • Still, CMOs don’t think they’ve figured social media and measuring it definitively out yet. But the missing link, as Bazaarvoice calls it in their blog about the results, is coming.
  • The top metrics CMOs used in 2010 to measure social media success were (in order) site traffic, number of fans/members, number of positive customer mentions. But Bazaarvoice projects the top in 2011 will wind up being site traffic, conversion, number of mentions, number of fans/members and revenue.
  • 93 percent of CMOs plan on using some form of user-generated content to inform product and service decisions. The consumer has a voice now more than ever in corporate marketing efforts, not just on community sites.
  • The “don’t know” how much value social networking activity brings answers are declining, meaning CMOs are getting better and smarter at measuring. Ratings and review sites, branded communities and corporate blogs still lead the way for activities CMOs say bring average to significant return for their investment.
  • The report discusses real time insights and research a bit and how brands are finding consumer input found on social sites more valuable than just trying to stick a dollar sign on it. Expect more question on Bazaarvoice’s 2012 survey about how CMOs are using real time data and monitoring. I wish they’d asked those questions this year, but at least they’re thinking that way.

The report isn’t lengthy and you can download it for free. The webinar will feature several company CMOs on the call for a discussion of the results and the landscape of social media marketing in 2011. Sign up. It’ll be worth it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go change out that slide in about 20 of my presentations.

Read the report? Your thoughts? The comments are yours.

About the Author

Jason Falls
Jason Falls is the founder of Social Media Explorer and one of the most notable and outspoken voices in the social media marketing industry. He is a noted marketing keynote speaker, author of two books and unapologetic bourbon aficionado. He can also be found at JasonFalls.com.
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  • Anyone who doesn't factor in ROI as a major component of their work is doomed to join the unemployed sooner than later.

  • Thanks for the heads up Jason.
    As Social Media starts to be visble to mainstream CMOs, they are going to want to measure it. This is good for all of us in Marketing as it forces us to justify where we invest our time and budgets.

    I like your comment, “When you’re not groomed in marketing and business and you believe that “joining the conversation” is all there is to social media, you don’t get very far with company CMOs or other executives.”

    Very true.

  • I think by now most practitioners, including less experienced/qualified ones, know that driving revenue and conversions is a mandatory desired outcome.

    So they talk about it. But whether many of them know how to develop campaigns that drive revenue, not to mention know how to measure the effectiveness of those efforts, is another question entirely.

  • Thanks for the insight. I will do a piece on this myself. Since the new BUZZ word Social Network Marketing many have not understood how it will affect real business marketing. I know CMO's have to be up on this or be in last place. As a small business owner I use the traffic to measure my on line marketing efforts as well. I am slightly suspicious of social networks and fan based results as they can be altered with programs that seem to make the results un-reliable (especially if you are out sourcing). It will be a necessity to have a algorithm that will weed out sites that use these methods and will (if not already) be developed by Google. Once again thank you for pointing out this report. I am waiting for the internet gremlins to deliver the report but it will definitely add value (for my own decisions.

  • Jason, excellent point about adding marketing to social media brings it to life as a form of business. It is important to measure any kind of marketing efforts. Strategy and ROI are often discussed with regard to social media but seldom implemented. Looking forward to the webinar. Thanks for the tip.

    • I'd also include quantifiable goals in the list of things we don't see enough in social marketing strategies.

  • Thanks for notifying us Jason of this report,
    Great stuff. I still find it hard to believe there are any “social media gurus” who honestly aren't focused on linking social media to $ and other metrics. Perhaps I run in different circles, but I simply don't know anyone in social media who believes showing tangible results in dollars and sense doesn't matter. I also think this report shows that the real world CMOs are more or less a year behind those of us who study social media daily. Social media is a “cultural or systemic shift” as you say in the comments, and this is simply another example of that. Until marketers really understand that though, they're going to have a difficult time grasping social media.

    • I would argue that many gurus might say they focus on “linking social media to $ and other metrics”, but they are rarely asked for proof–they seem to rest on their supposed status as thought leaders, rather than on hard data and results.

  • Jason,
    Interesting points. Thanks. I would very much like to see data points and discussion on how B2B CMOs view the business value of social media marketing vs. their B2C peers. In my experience, it's anything but a one size fits all world, especially when you contemplate the utility and potential of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

    • I'm not sure if I can pull that data, Alan, but I can tell you this much:

      -Sample size: 175 CMOs
      -39% B2C
      -47% B2B
      -Most of respondents were CMO of orgs with > $51 million in annual revenues

      Hope that helps.

  • Thanks for the posting survey results, gives lot of insights :)

  • wonderful article thanks for sharing .

  • thanks for sharing. this article is a great information.

  • That's why here, we use the term marketing in social media vs social media marketing ;-). In our view, it put more weight on the marketing side than on the social media side and it means you need to tie what you do to strategy/business objectives/payback.

  • Thanks for sharing Jason – this is good data to have on hand.

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  • Jason,

    Thanks for the info! Just went to Bazaar Voice to download the report to read. I was intrigued by the message once I filled out the request form:

    “Every time this form gets filled out, a gong goes off at Bazaarvoice. This gong informs the intern, who is constantly stationed next to the gong, to let out a hearty “Whoop!” And everyone around him does the chicken dance.

    So thanks for providing today's entertainment! And thanks, too, for your interest in Bazaarvoice.”

    Very cool! And to you, Jason, thanks for always providing excellent information with incredible clarity and a great sense of humor. I appreciate the smile today!!

    Good luck changing your slides. “See” you on Feb. 2 for the report. :)


    • Thanks, Keri. There's clearly nothing wrong with having fun at work. Heh.

      • Oooh, groovy – So I guess it's a good thing tomorrow is Friday, eh? :D

    • We get a few emails every week about how much that thank you page makes people smile. Glad you enjoyed it!

      • Ian, Great to put a name and a smile with the message. Thanks for the reply! :)

  • The percentage of CMOs who said that they don't know about the business value of social media is still staggering (60% for Twitter / LinkedIn, over 50% for Facebook). How can we help CMOs see the value, and like indicated in the report, see it beyond the dollar sign? How much of the problem would you say is knowing HOW to use social media effectively for business (beyond measuring, but actually knowing how to practice social media marketing)?

    • Good question, Ricky. A lot of the problem CMOs have, I think, is that they

      expect a tactical bucket they're putting money into should turn around a

      dollar sign value that it's higher than that which they invested. They don't

      always see it as a cultural or systemic shift. But it's their jobs to look

      at their domain that way.

      I think there's a bit of balance here. We need to illustrate how to be

      social and use social media effectively in order to improve their business

      drivers. But they also need to hold us accountable for measuring those

      drivers and making sure when they turn to the CEO or Board of Directors and

      say, “This is what we did …here's what we got,” they aren't fired.


      • Definitely, Jason. We have to “teach” while demonstrating results.

  • YES! Social media is just another tool in the marketing toolbox. You have to provide business value just like anything else a company does. I'm with you: if you can't figure out how to give real business value (measurable value) with social media, get out of town. Metrics and measurement are important to marketing and business. Thanks for pointing out the updated survey data!


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