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cmo-council-social-media-impact-on-marketing-operations-dec11.gif55% of senior marketers say that social media has impacted their marketing operations by improving customer listening, engagement, and conversations, matched by the proportion who say that the channel has opened new avenues to gather and further market insights, according to [download page] a study released in December 2011 by the CMO Council in partnership with Lithium. Data from “Variance in the Social Brand Experience” indicates that almost half of the marketers surveyed say that social media has increased the complexity of marketing planning and mix allocation, while 20% say it has improved customer intelligence.

These results largely mirror findings from a November 2011 McKinsey report studying the benefits of digital marketing overall: according to the survey, more than half of global marketing executives say that over the past 2 years, the increasing prevalence of digital media and tools has changed their companies’ ability to interact with and serve new customers, while roughly 2 in 10 say that digital-related marketing has increased their access to data and insights.

2 in 3 Leverage Social Media Insights for Opinions

According to the CMO Council study, 65% of marketers say they leverage social media as a listening post in order to gather insights on preferences, opinions, and reviews. Seeding discussion topics to focus conversations for specific market intelligence (51%), distributing special promotions, coupons, and discounts (43%), and collecting competitive intelligence (40%) are also popular uses of social media.

Likes Prompt Engagement, But Some Unsure of Response

cmo-council-marketing-response-to-facebook-like-dec11.gifThe most popular way for marketers to respond to customer likes on Facebook is by engaging in further conversation with the customer (31%), closely followed by fostering more community conversations to spark ongoing engagements, and allowing conversations to grow organically without censorship or editing (both at 30%). 22% respond by delivering special offers, discounts, or deals exclusive to fans, matched by the proportion who deliver more targeted, individualized messaging. However, 21% say they are not sure yet how to respond, and just know they have a lot of likes.

Marketers’ responses correspond with how they view customers likes: 41% of marketers believe that brand fans want to be heard, while only 33% believe that they are looking for incentives or rewards. The top reason marketers believe customers like their brand is because the content is agreeable (57%).

Other Findings

  • 34% of marketers say their existing social media strategy is supportive of their communications, but not fully integrated into their strategies. An additional 21% say they have loosely connected channels and are working on getting them aligned and into the overall strategy, while only 17% believe their social media strategies are fully integrated with overall marketing and go-to-market strategies.
  • The leading concern about investments in social media initiatives is that they require resources and time that marketers do not have available to them. About half also said they are unable to quantify or measure return or impact on their brand. According to a November 2011 report from Econsultancy in partnership with LBi and bigmouthmedia, 2 in 5 global companies do not have a return-on-investment (ROI) figure for any of the money they spend on social media marketing, while a further 26% say they can only attribute an ROI figure to a tiny amount of the money they spend on social media.
  • More than half of the marketers responding to the CMO Council survey rate their level of brand influence in social media channels as growing, although very few believe that their brand has excellent (7%) or very good (9%) influence.
  • 4 in 5 respondents say that social media has moved up in their priority list in the past 12 months.
  • Marketers report that the leading reason customers typically reach out to them is to look for service or support (80%). Other reasons cited are to respond to an ad campaign or Web content (43%), to complain about a bad experience (29%), to learn about new and upcoming products (29%), or to give the company feedback or ideas (29%).
  • A majority of marketers say that their customers typically communicate with them through email (76%) or customer service lines and call centers (54%). Only 11% say their customers would post on the brand’s Facebook page in order to communicate.

About the Data: The CMO Council findings are based on a survey of 132 senior marketers. 39% came from a company with less than $50 million revenue, while 29% came from a company with more than $1 billion revenue.

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