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What CMOs stand to gain by boosting social data’s influence organization-wide

By Jamie Gilpin / May 7, 2019

For ages, companies tasked CMOs with a clear objective: Get products and services in front of more people.

But today, the CMO role is evolving. As a marketing leader, you have the opportunity to think beyond traditional department boundaries and drive business strategy across the organization. Already, nine out of 10 companies consider CMOs to be the connective tissue between multiple lines of business and the driver of top-line growth.

A new kind of CMO is on the horizon, and that’s great news for businesses. It’s also good news for CMOs. With a more central role in business strategies and operations, marketing leaders stand to gain a whole new level of influence. There’s even more good news. CMOs have access to one of the most powerful business intelligence resources that few outside marketing have access to: Social media data.

To be viewed as the primary driver of business growth and truly impact the bottom line, CMOs must learn how to communicate customer insights and, in particular, those found in social data to other departments. That starts with empowering your marketing team.

According to the Sprout Social Index: Empower & Elevate, 71% of social marketers believe they can provide helpful insights gleaned from social to teams outside of marketing. Frontline marketing employees know social data better than anyone else, and it’s up to you to invest in tools that will help practitioners leverage social data’s ability to fulfill needs and collaborate across departments like sales, customer service, R&D and more.

Demonstrating social’s value is a worthy goal

Although social media customer insights can positively impact overarching business goals and fuel innovation across departments, marketing leaders struggle to communicate social’s value to other decision makers. In fact, half of CMOs (53%) say their biggest challenge is demonstrating social’s impact to the rest of their organization.

Most often, stakeholders outside of marketing don’t realize social media data exists or don’t understand its value, but therein lies CMOs’ biggest opportunity. Flip these assumptions on their heads and reinforce how social data provides new, more powerful customer insights for the entire organization. Social gives you access to the largest, real-time and most authentic focus group. Most consumers are more than happy to share raw, unfiltered feedback on social—more input than they’d give via surveys, for example. These insights have the potential to lead to big results including competitive insight and positioning, more personalized and customized customer journeys, increased loyalty and bottom line growth.

For example, product teams armed with social listening data can learn what people enjoy about products and highlight similar features in future designs. R&D departments can also uncover ways customers use products that the company may have never considered, and innovate features to enhance those capabilities. Kraft Foods, for instance, leverages social media data to inform food product development. By diving into customers’ social conversations and conducting social media polls, Kraft engineers real products—like Mayochup—to align with existing customer interests.

Driving awareness about possibilities like these starts with elevating conversations with other decision makers—from “hey, I have all this data” to “here are the questions we can answer for your department.” Proactively bringing social media customer insights and listening data to each department demonstrates social’s value and widens your team’s influence within the entire organization.

Smart marketing leaders empower their teams to maximize social’s potential

The future CMO has a lot on their plate, especially with growing expectations to be the connector and collaborator across multiple departments.

Fortunately, you don’t have to achieve greater collaboration alone. You’re sitting on a wealth of customer data that supports key business objectives for teams outside of marketing. Great things happen when you provide the time, space and tools your team needs to develop a steady stream of actionable insights and reinforce the versatility of social data company wide.

Although just 12% of social teams currently report their primary function is to provide business insights for their entire organization, the right tool can change this, especially at organizations with smaller marketing teams. Social management solutions that include listening tools empower front-line marketing managers (who have a deep understanding of your brand and its customers) to be more strategic and spend more of their time developing strategy and less time working on tactical execution—a desire among nearly half (46%) of social marketers surveyed.

With a little trust and a strategic digital investment, you can give your team the freedom to turn social into a versatile, data-rich channel that supports big-picture business goals. When equipped with social listening tools, frontline marketing employees will help you keep social’s benefits top-of-mind with decision makers. Over time, hearing about social media insights (and experiencing their benefits first hand) will help other department leaders build better, more informed strategies that are grounded in the voice of their customers.

Take the opportunity to have weekly or monthly meetings with your team to check in on the insights they’re gaining from social data and identify what might be useful to leadership across the organization. This approach can serve as an ongoing way to reinforce the strategic work being done by the marketing team.

Becoming the CMO of tomorrow starts with collaboration today

Times are changing for the CMO.

It’s time to think of yourself as a new Chief Collaboration Officer—a job that entails enhanced communication, creativity and teamwork. Effective collaboration requires empowering your team to collect and share social data that supports each department’s unique responsibilities, and then to explain how teams can incorporate social media customer insights to improve performance. By providing social teams with the necessary support and tools to derive actionable insights from social data, you can cultivate trust and value across departments.

Combined, your efforts will ensure your organization sees through a top customer preference that many business units don’t even realize social can positively impact: Having more personal relationships with brands. Social data offers your company ample opportunities to create new strategies based on real customers insights.

And as the person who champions bringing customer data to other departments and highlighting meaningful results, you can prove your value and solidify your marketing team as an indispensable company pillar.

Getting to this point begins with putting in the effort now and arming your entire marketing team with the resources they need to collaborate and boost social data’s influence organization-wide.

For more insight on how you can empower your team to widen social data’s influence within your organization, download the Sprout Social Index: Empower & Elevate.

Jamie Gilpin

Jamie Gilpin

Jamie Gilpin is the CMO at Sprout Social. She is an experienced marketing leader with demonstrated success in growing brands in the technology space through strategic positioning.
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