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How CMOs Use Twitter: Insights and Opportunities

In 2012, Gartner analyst Laura McLellan made her now-famous prediction that “by 2017, the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO.” Thus began the decade of the CMO, in which the aura of the Chief Marketing Officer has risen.

But with that elevated aura comes heightened expectations: CMOs are the face of the brand, with responsibility for public relations, branding, demand generation, product marketing and analyst relations. And perhaps most importantly, CMOs are responsible for fueling the sales pipeline to drive revenue. These days, the Chief Marketing Officer is under as much pressure as the Chief Revenue Officer.

So it was with heightened interest that I picked up “Social Insights: How CMOs engage with people, brands, and content on Twitter,” a report produced in collaboration by Leadtail and Neustar. The report looked at the Twitter activity of 1,034 CMOs and marketing executives in the United States and Canada. 131,697 public tweets were analyzed from September 15 – December 15, 2014.

What can CMOs learn from how (other) CMOs use Twitter? Let’s consider new opportunities that surfaced in the report.

Complement Manual Twitter Activity with Automated Tools

Bar Chart of CMOs Apps and Platforms for Twitter Sharing

Marketers are busy and Chief Marketing Officers may be the busiest of the bunch. The Leadtail/Neustar report makes it clear that CMOs use social media for personal branding. What the data highlights, however, is that CMOs are largely using the official Twitter clients. Much lower on the list are tools, such as HootSuite, TweetDeck and Buffer.

Use of official Twitter clients results in authenticity on social media: CMOs actively share, retweet and engage. That being said, there’s an opportunity in using automated tools. With automation, CMOs can save time by scheduling tweets for particular times. This can increase the effectiveness of tweets, if more of their followers are online during those scheduled times.

And tools provide much more than just scheduling. For instance, Buffer provides content suggestions, which means that busy CMOs can outsource a portion of their content curation, while still reviewing the suggestions before they’re posted. Many tools provide built-in analytics dashboards, which can help CMOs spot trends in their sharing to optimize their Twitter strategy going forward.

A word of caution is warranted: be sure to strike the right balance between authenticity and automation. Watch when people respond to your scheduled tweets and respond accordingly. Continue to “be present” on Twitter.

Use LinkedIn as a Publishing Channel

CMOs' Linkedin Sharing Doubled Q42012 To Q42014

LinkedIn sharing among CMOs has doubled from Q4 2012 to Q4 2014. Not surprising when you consider that LinkedIn opened its publishing platform to all U.S. users in 2014 and to users in all English-speaking countries in January 2015. That means over 230 million people have the ability to publish posts on LinkedIn. In addition, 40,000 new posts (on average) are published each week by LinkedIn users.

With this increased activity in LinkedIn publishing, it’s not surprising that CMOs are sharing more LinkedIn posts on Twitter. But how many posts are CMOs contributing to the 40,000/week number? Apparently not many, if you consider CMOs profiled in Leadtail/Neustar’s report.

Of the “Sample of the CMO’s We Analyzed” (see Page 8 of the report), only two CMOs have published posts to their LinkedIn profiles.

This is a huge opportunity for CMOs.

First, consider posts that you wrote for your company blog, or articles that you published to industry websites. Re-publish them to LinkedIn. I’ve seen LinkedIn posts receive 10x the viewership and engagement they did on the original site. You can get a single post re-published in about 10 minutes.

Next, consider sharing unique thoughts in a few short paragraphs. If I have a perspective to share, I’ll write up a few paragraphs, create an image (to match the theme of the post) and publish on LinkedIn. For me, shorter posts perform better there. And the entire process for a single post can take as little as two hours.

Elevate Thought Leadership by Featuring Your Peers

Popular Stories with Marketing Executives 2014

In Q4 2014, 3 of the top 5 most shared links were stories featuring lists of top CMOs. The scenario is clear: if you’re a “Top CMO” who’s mentioned in an article or a report, chances are you’ll share a link to the article.

Do you see the opportunity here? To become a thought leader among your CMO peers. But how? By featuring them in your own lists. You could run a series of interviews with the “Top CMO Bloggers in B2B.” Send them your questions via email, then publish the Q&A to your blog. For additional flair, record video interviews or podcasts featuring fellow CMOs.

This strategy is particularly useful if your company sells to the CMO. But even if it does not, the recognition and thought leadership can do wonders for your personal brand and for your company. Vala Afshar (@ValaAfshar) is a CMO who does this particularly well.

Conclusion

The Social Insights report from Leadtail and Neustar contains interesting insights. In addition to exploring how CMOs use Twitter today, the report uncovers new opportunities.

First, CMOs can enhance their curation and sharing by using automated tools.

Next, CMOs should head to LinkedIn (that’s correct, right now) and regularly publish posts there.

Finally, advanced CMOs can heighten their thought leadership by featuring the insights of their peers.

Hopefully, 2016’s version of this report will show CMOs taking advantage of these opportunities.

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Written by Dennis Shiao
Dennis Shiao
Dennis is an independent marketing consultant who works with brands on content marketing, product marketing and social media marketing. Dennis curates an email newsletter called Content Corner and publishes marketing-related content on Medium. You can find Dennis on Twitter, @dshiao.

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