The Social Media Dilemma

November 12, 2012

By Ken Beaulieu

Fidelity Investments CMO Jim Speros contends that there has never been a more exciting time to be in marketing, a sentiment echoed by many of his peers.  But he also realizes that, with rapid advancements in technology and the shift to a more empowered consumer, marketers today face some sizeable challenges.

In the latest issue of ANA Magazine, Speros offers an insightful perspective on what it takes to build a successful marketing organization. One of the most important ingredients, he says, is seeking social media engagement. “Establishing a clear plan and supporting infrastructure to leverage social media has never been more critical,” he points out. “There are clearly risks here too. Customer service and your public relations organizations must be tightly looped in. Rapid response to issues that emerge can make or break your brands.”

The industry still has a ways to go in this area. A Stanford University survey of C-suite executives at both public and private companies found that, while 90 percent of respondents claim to understand the impact that social media can have on their organization, only 32 percent monitor social media to detect risks to their business activities and 14 percent use social media metrics to measure corporate performance. Additionally, only 24 percent of senior managers and 8 percent of directors surveyed receive reports containing summary information and metrics from social media, and half of the companies do not collect this information at all.

The bottom line is that there is still a major disconnect between companies’ perception of social media and the actions they are taking to apply it to their business. “The majority of those we surveyed don’t have social media guidelines in place at their companies, haven’t had a social media expert consult with their company, and don’t have systems in place for gathering key information,” says David F. Larcker, a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and lead author of the Stanford study. “They are putting themselves at serious risk by not taking action.”

You don’t have to convince Jim Speros of that.


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