Study Highlights Urgency of Strategic Integration of Social Media Marketing

by Eddie Reeves on March 21, 2011

(Note: This column also appears in my column in the fourth issue of Social Media Maketing Magazine.)

The American Marketing Association and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business are out with the latest edition of the CMO Survey, their semiannual report of what’s on the minds of the country’s top marketers. It contains some good news and at least one huge note of concern.

The CMOs express surprising optimism about the overall pace of economic recovery and the growth of their own budgets, especially in the area of social media spending. They predict that over the coming year, social media spending will almost double from a current level of 5.6 percent of total marketing spend to 9.8 percent. In five years, that percentage will grow to a whopping 18.1 percent.

Corporate America’s senior marketing professionals clearly get that social media marketing is not a fad, but don’t start popping the corks on the champagne bottles just yet …

While social media is still a relative babe in the woods compared to most traditional marketing modes, the truth is that it is not new. So I was stunned that only a few CMOs—a scant 6 percent—see social media as being well integrated into their companies’ overall business strategy. Even more distressing, only 10.5 percent say that SMM is very effectively integrated into their broader marketing strategy.

This should be setting off all kinds of alarm bells. To have something that you plan to spend as much as a fifth of your overall budget on over the next five years not be deeply and seamlessly ingrained into your strategy is a huge disconnect at best and a potential disaster at worst.

So what to do? A few humble suggestions:

  • Make sure you have a strategy. A Facebook page and an intern who tweets do not a social media strategy make. Invest the time and effort to think through what levers you want to pull with social media tools, how and why you do, and how you will assess your performance.
  • Make sure your strategy is tied directly to the organization’s overall business strategy. I’m continually amazed at how often this bedrock principle of marketing is ignored. As a marketing pro, if you cannot automatically and succinctly describe how the major component of your marketing program drives the specific imperatives of your company’s operations, you aren’t doing your job. Executed properly, social media should make this easier, not harder.
  • Make sure you market your marketing. Once you have a strategy, and once you are sure that that strategy is well integrated into the larger organization’s goals and objectives, for goodness sake don’t keep it a secret! While it’s important to be tactful, it’s incumbent on marketers to let all other parts of the organization know about your contributions.

As the economic recovery gains steam, now is great time for marketers to push their progress, accelerate their activities, and reinforce their relevance, and the effectiveness and efficiency of social media marketing offer excellent tools to do so. But none of that works without strong strategic integration, and that strategic integration won’t happen by itself. It must be driven by someone with the competence, charisma, and courage to do so—in other words, by a true leader.

Is that you?

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