By adaptive - September 16th, 2014

To make the most of the social media landscape, CMOs need to change and adapt to ensure their corporations’ take full advantage of the social space.

Social media waits for no one least of all your corporation’s CMO. As social media expands, so CMOs must transform to ensure they can fully leverage the massive benefits this changing environment offers their enterprises.

In their latest research into CMO activity, Accenture conclude: “Given CMOs’ understanding of the brand and the customer, they are the natural leaders, able to envision a transformation that bridges the entire customer experience, including sales, service and product. The ability to wield, rather than be overwhelmed by, digital technologies will be critical, as will cutting across current functional boundaries. By collaborating with other C-suite executives and drawing on external partners to boost internal expertise, CMOs can become more visible change agents for digital transformation.”

And digital transformation is taking place none more so than across the social media environment. The development of social business continues to evolve its definition, but the research carried out by Accenture illustrates that CMOs continue to struggle when attempting to understand what a ‘social business’ actually is, but more importantly, how their enterprises need to change in order become social businesses in their own right. It seems that legacy has a great part to play here with nearly 70% of respondents to their survey in emerging markets understanding the importance that digital business will have on their enterprises.

“Only 18% of CMOs in established markets believe their company will become known as a digital business, but one-third (32%) of senior marketing leaders in emerging markets think that way. Marketers in emerging countries also are twice as confident in their ability to transform into a digital business (70% vs. 38% in mature economies),” Accenture conclude.

CMOs then differ in their approach to digital marketing depending on whether they have legacy marketing activity they continue to build upon. What is clear however is that CMOs need to change how they view marketing and see their activity through a social media lens.

In Useful Social Media’s own State of Corporate Social Media report 2014, as with last year’s report, when asked where social media is controlled, over half (57%) of respondents state its controlled by their marketing department. This is an increase of 6% over last year, revealing that corporations continue to evolve into social businesses. This figure jumps by a further 2.4% when B2B only corporations are considered.

We also found that this increase illustrated a better understanding of how social media could be leveraged, as 17% now have a discrete social media department. What’s more, when asked whether the rise of social media had had an impact on structures and departmental organisation, 71.5% stated it had (an increase of over 10% on 2013), further illustrating the transformative impact social media is having in the corporate and brand space.

Chief Digital Officer

As social media in particular now impacts on every aspect of your corporation’s activities, the marketing department is no longer the driver behind this activity. The increasing shift away from social media simply being a function of marketing is profound and we think it will continue at an accelerated pace. As corporations become ‘social businesses’ all stakeholders will have a social media facet to their duties. Marketing continues to be the hub around which social media orbits, but that hub is becoming less well defined, as simply a function of marketing, and becoming a function of all departments.

CMOs therefore, also need to transform their responsibilities to take into consideration all of the digital activity their corporation is involved within. Social media will clearly dominate here, but CMO’s as they transforms into Chief Digital Officers (CDOs) will also touch on many more departments. As we concluded in our State of Corporate Social Media report 2014:

“Social media is also becoming a function of many more departments with more staff members using social media as a core component of their duties. Ultimately, our results show great progress towards more social business development, as marketing, PR and communications siloes dissolve to be replaced with a more holistic approach to business management with social media at its epicentre.”

What is clear is that the traditional CMO cannot properly function in today’s omnichannel environment. In addition, the move to create more social businesses, the adoption of social media outside of marketing channels for customer service and the support of brand advocacy means that CMOs must transform.

Accenture advises: “Set your sights on an enterprise-wide digital ecosystem and the role of marketing within it. Aim to create multi-channel personalized experiences for each customer across the brand. Don’t wait for all the technology to be ready. Select a few channels now, offer more than one experience and begin to test and learn. Then review the data and shift your tactics and technology if necessary. The key is to start now, collaborate across the business and keep at it.”

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