It’s hard to be the Chief Information Officer.

These busy tech execs are under pressure to successfully power up the CEO’s latest digital transformation initiative, plus hire and retain the best IT talent. Not to mention keep networks and systems secure, and deal with cloud, legacy software, and budget issues … all while trying to prove to the C-Suite that they’re real business leaders and not just cost-center managers.

It’s also tough to be a B2B marketer who sells to CIOs.

You need to elevate your product and service pitches into a marketing message that intersects with one of the mission-critical business issues CIOs face — and your story has to resonate — clearly an ongoing challenge for many marketers.

Take It From a CTO

Ralph Loura, CTO at Rodan + Fields put it this way:

“Successful Chief Information Officers are adept at sifting signal from the noise. Noise: Transformation, Cloud, Big Data, DevOps, Security, IoT, etc. Signal: Customer Experience, Digital, Value, Culture, Strategy, Growth, Disruption. Value and outcome are the tip of the arrow, the technology that enabled it, the feathers in the tail. Most digital marketers are leading with the wrong end of the arrow and the results are what you’d expect.”

This means getting your brand story right is more than table stakes if you want CIOs to notice. Of course, you still have to reach these IT decision makers with your message.

That’s where social media comes in.

Many CIOs turn to social media for the latest technology news and trends, and to engage and collaborate with their peers, employees and customers. The problem is social media is extremely noisy with many millions of daily posts, tweets, uploads, snaps, all clamoring for attention.

3 Tips to Reach CIOs on Social Media

Social media provides an opportunity for marketers to break through the noise and grab CIO’s attention. Here are three tips to make your social pitches more effective:

1. Find the Right CIOs to Engage

Social media is a great place to build a marketing approach which focuses on specific people you want to reach and engage. So put together a list of CIOs that fits your buyer persona and find where they’re active on social. This list of top 100 most social CIOs on Twitter is a good place to start, but don’t stop at Twitter. CIOs also blog on LinkedIn Pulse and Medium, contribute to industry publications, participate in IT groups and communities, and answer questions on Quora.

Follow them, share their content and comment on their posts. Simply put, get on the radar and do some “nurturing” before you try to engage directly.

2. Focus on Topics CIOs Care About

Remember, it’s not all about you. If you really want to understand what’s up with technology decision makers then spend some time “listening” to their conversations. Scroll their social feeds, find out what content they share, see who they mention and discover the topics catching their attention.

My firm created a list of 313 CIOs active on Twitter to listen to. This word cloud shows the hashtags they used the most last month:

CIO Top Hashtags


What else is on the minds of CIOs?

Kim Stevenson, SVP, Data Center Infrastructure at Lenovo said, “Outstanding CIO’s are focused on formulating company strategy while executing existing strategies. The journey from big data to advanced analytics to artificial intelligence is the key to defining company growth and improved operational performance.”

Jo Peterson, VP Cloud Services at Clarify360 said, “The Internet of Things is becoming big … really big. Visionary CIOs are thinking about ways that IoT can further enable their business. We’re seeing an uptick in machine learning happen. Forward thinking CIOs get that machine to machine will become the new normal.“

Focusing on the issues CIOs care most about will go a long way to helping you break through with your social activity. Just keep in mind Mr. Loura’s advice about making your brand story about value and outcome, not just the technology.

3. Build Relationships with CIO Influencers

There are many people influencing CIOs on social media including research analysts, bloggers and industry executives. Find out who they are, build relationships with them, and get them advocating your products and services. Social recommendations from the right influencers can make even the most cynical CIO sit up and take notice of your brand.

Of course, B2B influencer marketing takes effort, but the rewards are worth it.

[Note: this article was first published on CMSWire]