Thursday, November 3, 2011

Our journey with social media and tips on how to be better prepared

Every now and then, I run a Google Search on my name to track my digital identity (good hygiene in my opinion). I ran across an old videocast I did with Kiruba Shankar, a business blogger and (a very patient and pleasant interviewer) in late 2010 about leveraging social media in a B2B context. I think it summarizes several of our social media initiatives well. I use many of these examples in marketing forums around the country.

Our initial foray into social media marketing involved simply social media enabling our website with social bookmarking, user comments etc. But soon thereafter we embraced digital listening and sentiment analysis. This laid the groundwork for a complete digital influence initiative by engaging our SMEs around the world to participate and start relevant conversations to drive share of voice and also manage our online reputation management. We saw our share of voice increase by 14 points and we were asked to share this as a best practice in marketing and academic forums alike.
Since then, we have gone several steps further in actively building both internal and external communities on LinkedIn and Facebook and leveraging Twitter for social PR. For our Centennial year, we also ran an pan India Jam to crowd source ideas from employees for progress in the next Century. We currently implementing many of those ideas.
Taking a step back, I am awe struck by the velocity of change in this particular space, despite being an early adopter of social media (I was posting IBM videos on YouTube before Google bought them!). In fact, CMOs across industries baffled by the social media phenomenon and its application to business. This was further corroborated in the Global IBM CMO Study. CMOs in India, in particular, consider social media to have high marketing impact but feel least prepared for this medium. What was surprising to me was when these same CMOs were asked for the most critical capabilities needed to be successful as a CMO, social media expertise ranked 12th out of a list of 13, even below finance skills! I don't think successful and progressive CMOs can relegate social media strategy to the agencies and junior team members and then spend time cribbing about how they need to deliver better marketing ROI.
So my simple advice: To define social media strategy, you need to at least have an understanding and, better yet, a passion for the medium so that the right social media engine can activated to support the right business objectives. That requires investment in dabbling in the medium frequently and see what makes sense. No agency or course will teach you this. Just go online, set up your digital profile and start reading blogs, follow people you are interested in on Twitter, join an online community. Its like they say with the New York Lottery "You can't win if you don't play!" Be Social! If you need help or tips, drop me a comment. I love this stuff.


  1. I fully agree! Just to add on ,its also a good idea to talk to your consumers ( Not "research them to death"-as is often the case) and find out what they like on social media and what would they expect from a brand in this context- and what would they think is intrusive.As we discussed- its weird that the same CMOs who are "with it" on FB etc in their personal lives just freeze and say "We dont get it" at work .They end up delegating this "FB stuff " to an assistant- Some solace as even Eric Schmidt of Google said (at a D 9 conference in June 2011) that he didnt get this networking bit right-of course he put it more graphically!

  2. Social media can be either purely for social reasons or for social commerce.Best option for corporations is to set policies and guidelines so employees ,know the difference, as productivity is all relative and it is hard to measure . Probably That is the reason why Indian CXO's are finding it difficult to inculcate this as there marketing or promotional initiative .
    As Steven Levitt rightly said in his Book Freakonomics , Every marketing initiative have 3 objectives to achieve ; Social, Moral and Economical .Atleast from Indian corporation point of view.We are not sure except Social does Social media addresses anything else " Economical and Moral points ".

  3. Lastly we also need to be aware about the fact that , Just because you acquired 500 Facebook friends without much labor , That doesn't mean you are more socially acceptable than any one else. The same true with any corporation.They need to have measurable business results with social media marketing.
    The question is HOW ??

  4. Thanks for your comments! Building on these, do you think companies who block access from social media sites from the workplace are sending the wrong signal to employees? If Indian CMOs claim that social media has the highest marketing impact and they see the company's employees are important brand evangelists, then why are companies encouraging and enable our employees to leverage social media in a profressional context?

  5. Cannot agree more

    There is no defined science which controls social media. Just like we put in an enormous amount of time and personal interest in managing our own social media identity, when it comes to a brand, it needs to be run in exactly the same manner. Just like I as an individual know what my friend is interested in, I as a CMO need to know what customers are actually interested in and communicate with them through social to help them further their interest.

    On your other point, blocking social media sites is seen as part of boosting employee productivity. But then a company which isn't social itself cannot claim to be successful in social media marketing. This is a classic example of fear psychosis.

  6. Completely agree with Dev.. the CMO needs to loo at Social media as a "route to understand customer better". therefore, just as he / she invests time and efforts in attending conferences, seminars, reading and meeting customers, the CMO needs to spend time on Social media networks to build the relationships with customers. These network building actions can be with other CMO's and also with functional experts from other domains.