In Survey, Social Media Marketing Takes a Corner Office

  |  March 3, 2008   |  Comments

A TNS/Cymfony study finds marketers are thinking seriously about appointing social media executives for the long term.

Nearly half of marketers surveyed in a new report from TNS Media Intelligence/Cymfony believe social media has become an established fixture in the media and marketing landscape and should be overseen by senior executives.

In the survey of 71 marketing professionals in the U.S., Canada, France and the U.K., not even one respondent saw social media as a passing fad. Approximately a fifth (21.1 percent) said it was worth monitoring at the staff level but "should not absorb significant resources," while nearly half (49.3 percent) said it should be monitored at the executive level and receive significant resources. Another 29.6 percent called it a "revolutionary new opportunity that must be grasped with a sense of urgency." The U.S. had a higher concentration of exuberance, with 45 percent of respondents calling social media revolutionary.

When asked what titles should be associated with senior roles overseeing the channel, respondents suggested Head of Social Media, Director of Consumer Generated Media, Consumer Insights Manager, and Social Media Officer, among others.

"The names were all over the place, but it was clear in those names that the companies are really starting to think, 'How do we do it in an organization or structure... and how do we turn it into something that can be part of the mainstream [marketing] mix?'" said Jim Nail, chief strategy and marketing officer of TNS Media Intelligence and Cymphony.

Monitoring social media activity for brand and category-related sentiments ranked highest among marketers' priorities for the channel and scored considerably higher than brand awareness and customer loyalty initiatives. Whereas roughly 20 percent said it offered the greatest potential for either increasing loyalty or building awareness, 36.6 percent described it as ideal for "gaining consumer insights."

While brands are certainly coming around to the idea of social media, agencies should be careful to manage expectations, cautioned Nail.

"Clients, particularly the slower-moving clients, want best practices," he said. "They want proven models."

That's not always realistic. Whether it's video sharing, social networking sites, or micro-blogging, "clients want to get into it, but want guarantees, want the cookie cutter approach," he said. "That's not going to happen."

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Enid Burns

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