This article is by Margaret Molloy, the global CMO for strategic branding firm Siegel+Gale. Follow her on Twitter @MargaretMolloy.
The CMO’s personal use of social media is a hot topic in the marketing community. It is fraught with some intimidation, plenty of procrastination and occasional arrogance—on both sides of the argument—about adopting social platforms as professional tools. No matter which side you’re on, it is difficult to deny the impact that social media has on modern business practices and the opportunity it poses for savvy CMOs to generate broader brand awareness—for the individual and his/her organization.
Based on hundreds of conversations with CMOs, I’ve identified five key commitments that will help CMOs of all stages of social media simplify the process of managing their personal social channels, and ultimately, rock social.
1. Master LinkedIn plus one
Misconceptions regarding the motivation for being active on social platforms haunt CMOs. Among them, “LinkedIn is only for job hunting,” and “Twitter may be great for listening to our customers, but it’s not an executive-communication tool.” The proliferation of platforms has compounded the challenge of where to focus their efforts. CMOs need to concentrate on LinkedIn plus one other. Why? LinkedIn is now a top destination for industry news, and the search volume on the platform demonstrates that it is now a critical platform for finding solutions to pressing business issues as well as an essential platform for any CMO to master.
Your choice of a second platform is up to you. Working in business-to-business? Create lots of presentations? Investigate SlideShare. Love video? Consider Vine or Instagram. Focusing on your preferred platform enables you to build expertise and influence.
2. Focus on your expertise
The burden of having something “interesting” to say is the No. 1 obstacle preventing CMOs from going deep on social, especially Twitter. Don’t be paralyzed by that—you have reached the pinnacle of your careers based on your professional judgment, and the audience is wide and deep enough in social that an interested one will find you. Decide what you want to be famous for—your specialization could be based on an industry vertical (e.g., software) or aspect of marketing (branding, ROI). Once you have identified your focus area(s), communicate that in your profiles description and use your specialty as a filter for the insights your share on social platforms. While it is critical to demonstrate a point of view (you are a marketing leader), don’t feel that you must originate every insight. Be generous about sharing views of colleagues and others in your category. Your followers will appreciate your ability to curate relevant data and views.
3. Find your teacher
Social media is changing rapidly. This context has caused many CMOs to abdicate from using the platform because they feel they are either late to the party or they can’t keep up. The solution is to find a good teacher. The best teachers understand your industry as well as the mechanics of the platforms. They help accelerate learning and, most important, build your confidence—like a coach. A novel approach is to assign a mentor at your firm to guide and compel you to participate on social. Selecting a mentor who knows your industry and your involvement sends a very powerful signal to the firm about your commitment to learning from others.
4. Do it yourself
By the time many marketers reach the role of CMO, they have learned to build functional organizations, delegate tactics and focus on strategy. Social media, however, is a contact sport—you cannot truly appreciate its nature without actively participating. I’m not suggesting that you take over the role of social media manager for your organization—I’m recommending that you use the technology yourself. Above all, avoid the temptation to delegate managing your personal updates to a team member. Authenticity notwithstanding, by delegating social, you forfeit the chance to be personally involved in the conversation in your market, and the opportunity to influence it.
5. Integrate social into your daily routine
Not having enough time to invest in your personal social presence coupled with uncertainty about the return on investment of that time is a frequent excuse for neglecting a personal social media presence. The good news is that the platforms recognize this and have created tools that enable you to integrate social into your daily routine. You can post an article directly from a news site with your own pithy interpretation, or schedule multiple updates in one sitting. Mobile applications are my secret weapon. I check LinkedIn Contacts on my daily commute for alerts on my connections’ job changes and news mentions. It only takes a few seconds to congratulate them. Similarly, add your social information such as your Twitter handle to your email signature and your business card to foster engagement among new contacts. The trick is to integrate social into your daily workflow. Frequency matters.
Ultimately, success in social media isn’t measured by the number of followers or connections you garner, or how you rank on an influencer list. Rather, it’s measured by your ability to connect and build relationships with the professionals in your industry who matter to you and will help you grow your business. Social platforms are simply a set of tools—and like any tools, success is contingent upon learning how to employ them, using them properly and expending the right amount of energy. These five commitments will set you on the path to mastering these tools, and positioning yourself as an engaged modern marketer.