Social Media Bullet—“Fire-and-Forget” or “A Guided Missile”?

Louis Foong 0

What is your social media target?CMO Survey February 2012 Follows Marketplace Dynamics and Trends

It’s done, it’s a given; the social media bullet has been fired. The question is, does it have a real target or is it another hand grenade tossed mindlessly to create some sort of marketing explosion? Okay, so if I’m sounding like some sort of weapon and ammunition expert, I’m not one and I don’t have any interest in war. BUT, from all that I am observing around me, I definitely think there are far too many bullets flying around in the social media marketing space. That’s a lot of resources being burned away and I worry about whether or not marketers are putting enough strategic thought into why, how and what they are doing.

The recent CMO Survey highlights some interesting trends in marketing spending overall, as well as social media and marketing. Marketing spending increases further to account for 10.4% of overall firm budgets. The general economic optimism is good news for all; it is also, however, a time to rethink marketing strategy. Let’s not forget the very recent past, when budgets were mercilessly slashed and marketing was a tightrope walk of survive or perish. This resurgence of marketing budgets can be tricky, especially in the B2B marketing world as organizations can dangerously fall into the comfort trap. I don’t think there is any room for comfort or complacence. If anything, this is the time to polish your armoury of marketing weapons and make sure each one is a guided missile with a specific target and a measurable outcome.

Less Spending on Market Penetration, More on Developing New Markets and Diversification

A notable shift indicated by the CMO survey is that B2B marketers are likely to spend less of their marketing budgets on market penetration and more on developing new markets and diversification. Another finding is that “growth in marketing budgets remains high as B2B product companies expect 2x-4x growth of other industries”. Social media spending growth continues to rise with a 19.5% increase expected in five years. We are moving in the right direction, no doubt, but the results have to be tangible. What most companies are doing is assigning a portion of their marketing budget on conversion tactics. Social media is being viewed largely as a tactic, when really it needs to be process-driven.

If you compare traditional demand generation and go-to-market strategies such as branding, events, direct mail, etc. with social media, the steps in the process are the same. As marketers, we tend to get so caught up in customer education and branding that we easily lose sight of the demand generation and conversion component. No one is paying attention to this and if they are, the metrics and analytics are too complicated to apply towards strategy and results improvement. That is the simple explanation behind this fire-and-forget approach that is rampant, particularly with social media marketing. In fact, one of the questions asked in the survey was: How effectively is social media integrated with your firm’s marketing strategy? Responses were on a 7-point scale (1=not integrated, 7=very integrated). And the results: “Social media remains poorly integrated with marketing strategy”. Why am I not surprised? See this table:

Social Media Strategy Integration - CMO Survey February 2012

Page 34, Figure 5.2 – CMO Survey Results, February 2012

I do believe that social media is not going away anytime soon, so as a B2B marketer, you may as well start planning for success.

What has been your experience with social media so far? What portion of your marketing budget do you allocate to it and what contributions, if any, do you see being made to your revenues and bottom line? Leave me a comment.

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