What Role For The CMO In Social? The Research . . .

Last night, I hosted my first Tweet-up to talk about how senior marketers should approach social. Thanks to the team at Aspect and to the many lively tweeters and bloggers who were there. We'll do it again soon. Maybe we'll even get a 'real' French-speaking analyst, like my collegue Thomas Husson, to play along next time. 

So what did we talk about? 

In my just-published research "CMOs Must Orchestrate Social Initiatives" I call for marketing leaders to lead social. But when I say lead, I don't mean 'own'. The CMO, as the steward of the brand experience, must connect the dots of the company's social efforts around the consumer. 

The CMO must ochestrate social around the customer

The marketing leader has to help make sense of it all - not do it all. Indeed, every department has a role to play. I've outlined two distinct roles for the CMO to play: driving or shepherding, depending on the objective set for social. In both cases, these roles beg CMOs (and marketing staff) to act transversally, across different departments. 

This is a posture of sharing control - just like we talk about with consumers - which also must happen internally. Ideally, it should happen first internally . . .

To be clear, sharing control isn't about letting everyone run amuck. The CMO, with the support of the rest of the executive team (and the CEO,  I insist, thanks to our discussions yesterday), must lay the foundations for the company to succeed in social. So rather than spending time trying to take over social initiatives, the CMO should shore up making the company 'right' and ready for social. For example: institutionalizing common customer personas, establishing common company-wide objectives, evangelizing the importance of social, and setting standards to encourage and reward participation. She'll equip all those diverse voices with a rich definition of the brand and a clear and deep understanding of the consumers the company engages with. 

I hope that CMOs will take advantage of social to take a more active, transversal and business-focused role within the company. I call that broader transformation Connecting the Dots. I think social is a great place to start - if nothing else, because it's so transparent for customers. 

If you're a CMO, what's your role? Are you orchestrating or playing the horn when it comes to social? How many departments do you connect with? How do your customers experience the brand? I'd love to hear from you. 

Comments

What Role For The CMO In Social?

Mary Beth: This is a great post and I agree with you about the CMO's role.

At the same time, social media is a highly participatory, fast-moving space. If a CMO is going to be effective in the role you've defined, they need to get involved to have an informed opinion.

Barry Judge and Jeffrey Hayzlett are just two examples of CMOs that are participating in social media. And that experience is informing their ability to orchestrate and connect the dots. This facet of social media creates a bit of a paradox at the C-level. But it's important to acknowledge and address.

Thanks.

Thanks Kevin. I think the

Thanks Kevin.
I think the question is one of the CMO's level of participation (and what about their day job?) I certainly agree that she needs to participate, and suggest that even as a spectator, it's valuable. Most important is an understanding of the behavior changes social encourages and 'getting' the opportunity.

Just like the consumers they connect with, some CMOs will blog and tweet. Others will network and some will just read and watch. But I will say this - knowing some of the CMOs I work with, they won't take that back seat for long.