Marketers Can’t Capitalize on Social Media Potential

IBM's study of marketing executives worldwide shows the majority feel unable to capitalize on social media opportunities.

Social media promises to help marketers better connect with customers, yet a recent study conducted by IBM proves that despite the opportunities presented by sites such as Twitter and Facebook, marketing executives feel unable to tap the potential.

The 2011 IBM Global Chief Marketing Officer Study surveyed more than 1,700 chief marketing officers from 64 countries and 19 industries and found the top executives recognize that the way they interact with customers is changing and probably changing for the long-term. Yet the same study revealed that many don’t feel adequately prepared or equipped to deal with the change or take advantage of the potential opportunities made possible due to the shift.

“Customers are sharing their experiences widely online, giving them more control and influence over brands. This shift in the balance of power from organizations to their customers requires new marketing approaches, tools and skills in order to stay competitive,” an IBM press release reads. “CMOs are aware of this changing landscape, but are struggling to respond. More than 50% of CMOs think they are underprepared to manage key market forces – from social media to greater customer collaboration and influence – indicating that they will have to make fundamental changes to traditional methods of brand and product marketing.”

For instance, 82% of CMOs polled for the IBM study said they plan to increase their use of social media over the next three to five years. But just 26% admitted to tracking blogs today and 40% indicated they track any online communications, according to the study. And according to a Reuters story on the data, 82% of the CMOs in the study still rely on traditional market research to shape marketing strategies.

According to the IBM study, marketing executives face four key challenges: data explosion, social platforms, channel and device choices, and shifting demographics. And today’s CMOs must manage more data from multiple, disparate sources and engage with more intelligent customers as well as adapt to technologies and tools. Also a concern for CMOs is being held financially accountable for their marketing activities – proving ROI around their work. That’s why marketing professionals should be looking to improve in several areas.

“To meet these new challenges, CMOs must boost their own digital, technological and financial proficiency – but many seem surprisingly reticent in this respect,” the IBM press release reads. “When asked which attributes they will need to be personally successful over the next three to five years, only 28% said technological competence, 25% said social media expertise and 16% said financial acumen.”

This data from the IBM study comes coincidentally at the same time Gartner reported its estimates for worldwide social media revenue. The analyst firm stated in a press release that social media revenue is “on track to reach $10.3 billion in 2011, a 41.4% increase from 2010 revenue of $7.3 billion.” And Gartner projected that the forecast calls for “consistent growth with 2012 revenue totaling $14.9 billion,” with the market expected to reach $29.1 billion in 2015.

Are you social media savvy? Do you want to see your software vendors embrace the technology more in their marketing campaigns? Please leave a comment here, contact me on Twitter @DDubie or e-mail me directly at

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Denise Dubie

About Denise Dubie

Denise Dubie (@DDubie) is Principal of Strategic Content in CA Technologies Thought Leadership Group. She is charged with creating content relevant to today’s most pressing technology and business trends for industry leaders and IT professionals. Prior to joining the company in 2010, Dubie spent 12 years of her career at Network World, an IDG company, covering the IT management industry and all of its players (including CA Technologies and its competitors) as well as high-tech careers, technology trends and vendors such as Cisco, HP, IBM and Microsoft. As Senior Editor at Network World, Dubie also authored the publication's twice-weekly Network and Systems Management Alert newsletter and contributed to the Web site's Microsoft Subnet blog. Before IDG, she served as Assistant Managing Editor at Application Development Trends, managing writers and the monthly publication's production process. Dubie started her professional journalism career as a Staff Writer/Reporter at The Transcript, a small daily paper in Western Massachusetts.
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