B2B Social Media: Senior marketing executives want control.

While participating at the Online Marketing Conference, I heard a few comments from a few very hard-working working eMarketing managers.  These managers commented on their company’s leadership view of the growing importance of Social Media for their businesses.   In their view, most senior executives still don’t understand the need for all this focus on Social Media.  Sure, some bosses are willing to devote a little time and budget, but senior marketing executives see lots of fads in their lengthy careers. 

Thus, the brave eMarketing Managers, whom they employ, are usually pioneers, risking their careers, to launch and integrate Social Media plans into their corporate marketing efforts.  Not only do they have the smallest budgets, but they usually have the highest ROI proof requirements.  I am guilty of chuckling at the true story of one eMarketing Manager sneaking their company’s credit card to make a Social Media tool purchase.  They were only able to keep their job after showing the ROI on the tool!

It’s my view that senior marketing executives in large companies clearly understand and see progress in Social Media.  This is old news.  Many of the leading social media marketing technology companies have covered it here and elsewhere.  However, the problem, from my perspective, is one of control.  Who controls Social Media in the organization?  Does it fall under Corporate Marketing or Marketing Communications?  If Social Media ROI doesn’t deliver, as promised, who’s responsible, the eMarketing Manager or her boss?  Finally, if an eMarketing or Social Media Manager positively impacts revenue growth, how does the firm properly reward that individual and encourage the rest of the organization to support that success?

Social Media Marketing is not easy.  It’s not non-technical and it requires increasing understanding of analytics, software, and rapidly evolving Internet technology.  Although there’s sufficient education for eMarketers through organizations such as Online Marketing Institute, where’s the educational opportunity for Senior Marketing executives?  How will they learn about Social Media so that they can feel empowered to move their marketing organization, with confidence, in this rapidly emerging and highly effective direction?

In the absence of more education, tools must suffice and these tools need to get easier and give Senior Marketing executives more control and easier participation in Social Media marketing activities.  Information automation tools and social media dashboards are a start.  However, there’s more that can be done and I’d like to see more conversations around other possible solutions.  Unless our senior executives are encouraged to participate in B2B social media, we’ll miss out on their insights and support for this new customer engagement channel.