Marketing Leaders Need to Make Social a Priority in 2018
I lead the marketing team at Simply Measured, a social marketing software company that is now part of Sprout Social, another social marketing software company. Because of our focus, and because of my role, I spend a ton of time meeting with other marketing leaders: CMOs, VPs, Directors…all folks who oversee multi-functional teams.
What Top CMO’s Are Worried About
Leading a marketing team is not easy work. You’re on the hook for your brand reputation, customer acquisition, product messaging, and, ultimately, sales pipeline. Within those responsibilities, you have different channels, tactics, and people to think about as well. It can be difficult to give them each the attention they deserve. But it’s absolutely essential that you do.
So I’m always surprised when I hear a CMO say they don’t pay much attention to social.
Jazz Music and Marketing (It’s an Allegory)
The other night, my wife and I went to a concert. As the musicians were warming mouthpieces, stretching fingers, and tuning instruments, I noticed the saxophonist talking on the phone. The band leader wasn’t paying attention, because he was too focused on reviewing the music the band would be playing that night.
As the band started to play, the sax player wasn’t sure which song they were playing, and fumbled through sheets until he was on the right page. Even once he got settled, it became very clear that his sax was out of tune. It took three songs for him to correct it; three songs that – as a customer and potential buyer of merchandise – I had to sit through. Needless to say, I didn’t cop a CD at the end of the night.
The sax player has a responsibility to be prepared and do his best work, but the band leader has a responsibility to make sure each member of the band is ready and working at full capacity, so that the band can play in unison.
Marketing Leaders Can’t Afford to Ignore Social
I tend to overanalyze things, so naturally, I thought about the parallels to this concert in my own life. As a marketing leader, it would be easy to ignore social.
I have pipeline conversion rates and ad budgets and revenue numbers that I’m also accountable for, and each of those is under more scrutiny than social is. Shouldn’t that be where my focus is?
Sure, sometimes. But the band sounds better when everyone is in tune and playing the same song. Social needs to be in lock-step with every other part of marketing. If the CMO doesn’t set the direction and hold the team (and themselves) accountable for that, no one else will.
Recently, our friend Aseem Badshah, CEO of Socedo, published a great video walking through an analysis of their own social media engagement and website traffic, finding a statistically significant correlation between the two.
This is a specific case, and it’s not always going to be true, but it highlights an important point about alignment. When social media is aligned to other marketing programs, it enhances them. This is the same logic behind retargeting ads. Staying top-of-mind for your potential customers is crucial.
Sure, I place a lot of value on social media because we’re a social media software company, but also because I know the value social media can bring to an organization. I know what it’s brought to ours.
When I first started at Simply Measured, almost six years ago, I was the sole marketer, tasked with building an audience and turning that audience into customers. Social media was how I did that.
As you move further away from the tactical day-to-day activities of social – or any marketing function – it can be difficult to keep your finger on the pulse, but it’s essential to your organization’s marketing success, and your success as a leader.
How to Enable Social as a Marketing Leader
Today, I don’t manage social. I don’t even manage the person who manages social. I manage her boss, but I still need social to add value. I have a headcount and software budget invested in the program, and we have an audience of half a million people. It would be crazy to ignore it.
How do you stay involved? It comes down to process.
Enable your team: I have an easier time justifying social media spend than many marketing leaders do, given our company’s mission, but enabling your social team to do their work simply and more efficiently is critical. I think about this in terms of two specific needs:
- Management: Your social media team needs to easily schedule and publish content, engage with their audience, and interact with the market.
We use Sprout Social for this, and obviously we think they’re the best tool for the job, but even before they acquired us, I loved the tool for their price point and number of features that were on our list of needs.
- Measurement: Surprise! Marketing is a data-driven discipline, and social is no exception. Setting your team up with the ability to dig into their content and understand what works, gather intel about your audience, and increase the value social drives for your business is always worth the investment.
Social has the unique ability to provide data that will enable the rest of your marketing team as well. Think of this as an investment for the entire department.
Set Clear Expectations: One benefit of having the right tools in place is the accountability that can come with them. Create a regular reporting cadence that includes a recap of your own activity on social, insight from your audience and the market at large, and the plan for what’s next.
This will help create alignment across marketing, give you intel to share across the company, and help you set direction for your entire team. The right software will make this easier on your team as well by automating reports, making insight easier to find, and making findings easier to share.
Make Social a Priority in 2018
When you work as a marketing leader, social can often be set aside, but this is a mistake.
Social has the ability to amplify your message, drive value back to your brand, and give you unique, organization-shifting insight. If you’re not seeing value in social, it might be time to get the band on the same page.
Need help finding room in your budget? Check out our 2018 Social Marketing Budget Guide.
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I lead marketing for Simply Measured. Recovering journalist. My team is embarrassed of my hilarious jokes. Firm believer that the best marketers are the best storytellers and the best storytellers use the best data.