By Fran Lowe
A recent IBM research report covered in Mediabistro revealed that although top marketing execs are well aware of the major shift taking place via social media, a majority of them are unprepared to address this new world. Based on responses from 1,700 chief marketing officers (CMOs) from 64 countries and 19 industries, the Global CMO Study reveals that while 56 percent of CMOs view social media as a key engagement channel, only 26 percent are tracking blogs. Additionally, 42 percent are tracking third-party reviews and 48 percent are tracking consumer reviews to help shape their marketing strategies.
I don’t know if the study also asked the CMOs or their C-level colleagues if they were actively participating in social media on their own behalf or that of their company; but, I suspect a sizeable number are still only peripherally engaged and have not yet experienced the power of social media.
Social media offers a way in; a way to connect and collaborate with members of your audience or community that you would never otherwise reach, and an opportunity to influence. But, here’s the thing – it takes passion, time and commitment. It also requires authenticity and a strategic, integrated approach with your overall PR and marketing plans and the ability to talk about issues.
Offering insights and fresh-thinking on issues that impact your market space; discussing and highlighting emerging trends; sharing commentary and new or controversial thinking from others as well as yourself, AND resisting the impulse to “market” your own company and products, is what differentiates social media pros from those who simply see social media as another channel to blast out their marketing or PR messages.
All good communication starts with predefined goals and is built around a sound strategy and compelling messaging. Part of the payoff with social media done right is that you have the opportunity to “socialize” your audience so they will hear and respond to what you are saying. And the key to social media is to use it in concert with all your other strategic communications channels and tools – hence the need for an integrated approach.
Your target audience, whether that is 50 of the top influencers or reporters and analysts covering networking or green IT for example, operates in an interconnected world. Your communications outreach must perform the same way. Consistent, insightful blogging may result in syndication or a speaking opportunity. Building a highly targeted Twitter following, showing Twitter love and linking to your own blog, website or media coverage can get you listed on key “Top 10 lists” and help establish you as a Thought Leader in your own right.
The point is social media is not a random practice. To attain the results and ROI you would demand from any marketing or PR program, social media needs to be approached strategically as an integral part of outreach over time. It is essential to have the right messages, channels and outlets to reach the audiences you need to reach.
Engage PR is presenting a webinar on Using Social Media to Build Thought Leadership this coming Monday on October 31, in conjunction with Sustainable Silicon Valley. The webinar will guide tech and CSR executives on integrating social media into company strategy, with a presentation and Q&A session. Additionally, Greg Ness, VP of Marketing at Vantage Data Centers and an Engage PR client, will discuss how he has used social media to build his own personal brand and thought leadership over the past 5 years.