Budgeting for the Social Dilemma is What’s Keeping CMO’s Awake at Night

JOHANNESBURG, 23 March 2011 – Efforts at socialising the enterprise are challenging marketing executives to think and budget long term, as they seek to harness the potential of social media.

The biggest challenge for chief marketing officers today is striking the balance between actively socialising their brands and planning (and budgeting) for this effort over a longer time period.

The stalk reality remains that embracing social media is not optional and that integrating it into the marketing and communications functions implies a deep transformation not just of marketing, but customer service, product development and even the way the enterprise benchmarks success.

“Ultimately the marketing executive’s dilemma is knowing what to budget in year two, three and onwards for social media. Everyone starts with experiments but struggle to fully understand the business value returned,” says John Bell, global managing director of Ogilvy Public Relations’ 360º Digital Influence business.

Bell is currently in South Africa to run interactive sessions with the media, Ogilvy Group clients and employees. These sessions seek to challenge current thinking and convention around the use of social media in a South African (and global) context. In these sessions, Bell looks at where American Express, Intel, Ford and IBM succeeded and engages his audiences in lively debates on the challenges they face and how these can be broken down.

Evidence for this shift is mounting – social media will impact on how businesses market their products and services and run their organisations. Service organisations from Marriott to American Express are already seeing the marketing value behind social customer care. Every large enterprise from IBM to Unilever is wrestling with the risk and reward of their employees engaging in social media.

From the benefits of increased innovation to the risks of leaking intellectual property, senior business leaders want to embrace social media, but hesitate. How will global brands overcome these challenges? If social media is the wave of the present, then why aren’t more brands embracing this new discipline beyond experiments? Why are 20% of the organisations reaping 80% of the value?

“The question is: how do marketing executives know when social media is having a positive impact? How can they push for the most effective use of social media when that means coordinating across different discipline silos like PR, customer service and legal,” he says.

Bell says today’s marketing executives need to apply social media to their marketing mix, but they also need predictable gains. “After one to two years of experimentation, the CMO must pivot from letting a thousand flowers bloom towards adopting a guided, disciplined use of social media,” he says.

His experience is extensive and under the Ogilvy Digital Influence banner, he has developed strategy and executed award winning programmes for clients such as Ford, Lenovo, Unilever, Intel and American Express.

Bell says social media is not just a new channel or a few extra degrees in the 360º approach to marketing and communications. “Social media represents a fundamental consumer behavioural shift requiring marketers to change how they market, how they are organised and how they measure success.

Ogilvy South Africa
Established in 1984, Ogilvy South Africa has been one of the largest leading advertising and communications groups in South Africa for over 25 years.  It currently employs over 700 staff across 12 companies.  It provides a diverse and integrated range of services to clients including advertising, digital and interactive, activation, promotions, internal marketing, CRM, shopper marketing, PR, channel planning and relationship marketing. It is at the forefront of a 360 degree integration solution, with best-of-breed specialist skills in every aspect of the marketing mix. Ogilvy South Africa clients include a mix of local and multinational companies. The mission is to build magnetic brands — which in turn help clients build their businesses. The Brand Liberation philosophy of using breakthrough ideas to release the potential that exists in brands is Ogilvy’s raison d’etre, and is the cornerstone of the agency. Follow Ogilvy South Africa on Twitter at @OgilvySAFacebookFlickr and Vimeo