B2B social marketing received a significant boost earlier this month when Microsoft acquired LinkedIn for $26.2 billion. In the future, CIOs and IT professionals can play a critical marketing role within their organizations, because marketers need advocates, educators, integrators and strategic advisors to help them weave through the complexities required to effectively use social media.
Much of the business-centric marketing that occurs on social media today is rudimentary and separate from other enterprise processes, but savvy marketers lean on the strengths of CIOs to elevate their campaigns. "CIOs can be critical to that ecosystem, because they're in charge of IT, and you can't do social media marketing unless there are solid IT underpinnings, not only for content creation, but distribution, analytics, and tying things into additional systems such as CRM," says Rebecca Lieb, an industry analyst and advisor.
Customers are also more likely than ever to interact with companies of interest on social media, according to Raul Castanon-Martinez, senior analyst at 451 Research. "CIOs should look at social media as another channel for customer service and lead generation," he says. "CIOs play a key role in helping organizations leverage social media, because they are responsible for providing the systems and infrastructure needed."
Finding the right social selling tools
CIOs can also help research technological requirements, according to Lieb. IT pros can ensure social marketing tools align with their organizations' strategies and that they're suitable for the staff that will use them, she says. "Marketing is really fueled by technology, and somebody has to understand that technology as well as the strategy behind it, so it's a question of alignment."
However, it can be a significant challenge for CIOs to coordinate B2B social marketing efforts with other business objectives, according to Castanon-Martinez. To do so, CIOs must create synergies between social tools and business systems, such as CRM, ERP and content management systems, he says. If a customer reaches out on Facebook, for example, marketers must be ready and able to respond and provide necessary responses via the same platform.
"Everything is just becoming more and more connected, and people don't want social media to live in a vacuum anymore, nor should it," Lieb says. "This is all really complicated stuff, and it's not necessarily stuff that marketing understands. You really need deep technical expertise, which doesn't just happen and remain static … It's a constantly changing landscape … [and] you've got to figure out how the dots connect."
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