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The Top 20 Most Social CMOs in the Fortune 100

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This fall, Mark Fidelman, our Conference Director of BusinessNext Social, set out to find the most socially active group of CMOs in the Fortune 100.  Surprisingly, the group is overall not on the early adopter end of the social media spectrum. Only one in five CMOs or top-level marketing / communications executives from the Fortune 100 list have an active public presence on social networks. In our experience, having a large digital network is a significant advantage for anyone in positions where communication and influence are key ingredients to success.

The study revealed that the following individuals have social influence which distinguishes them from their peers. Mark said, “These visionaries have demonstrated their ability to sustain an adaptive social business by implementing new strategies, embracing cutting-edge mobile and social technologies and developing engaging content.”

20121109-BusinessNext-Speakers

Note: Only the highest ranking marketing executives were considered in each of the companies.

Methodology

While CMOs may apply different methodologies for engaging digital communities on an array of social platforms, these few rank highly on a formula pioneered by Mark Fidelman that considers metrics such as Twitter followers, retweet frequency, social engagement frequency, social mentions, KRED scores, and Klout scores. Weights are assigned to each factor to determine the final rankings of each CMO’s social impact.

Why Is This Important?

There is obviously a major discrepancy between the low social rankings of most CMOs and the significant focus placed on the impact of social media in business and the evolving role that marketers are taking in social media activities. A recent CMOSurvey.org study predicts that social media spending as a percent of rising marketing budgets is expected to increase from 7.6 to 18.8 percent over the next 5 years, while Gartner Research predicts the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO by 2017.

Ironically, these 100 CMOs are charged with leading social initiatives for the world’s largest enterprises, yet our analysis shows that the majority have relatively little experience building influencer communities. “That is a major stumbling block,” says Mark.  “The consensus among the people who top our list is that CMOs need first-hand experience building online communities to connect with customers and foster loyalty, trust and engagements.”

“An adaptive business is the only business that will survive the new challenges ahead, challenges caused by a massive shift of power from corporations and traditional media to customers and influencers. Companies that don’t make the transition to adaptive, social business will face overwhelming challenges that they are ill-prepared to overcome. Too often, we’ve witnessed organizations fail to understand and act on these shifts, and surrender to their competitors and creditors.

 We want to change that. 

 At BusinessNext Social, we’re giving business leaders the opportunity to learn how the most successful companies remain relevant, sustainable and profitable. What’s the secret? Combining new social and mobile technologies with smart content. When produced in the right culture, this creates a powerful growth machine that can automatically adjust to changes in market conditions.” 

– Mark Fidelman, Conference Director, BusinessNext Social

If Mark’s vision for social business sounds too good to be true, then we have to recognize that the transition to social business is incredibly difficult.  And, effective change needs to start at the top.  Only by “walking the talk’’ can CMOs and other C-level executives demonstrate credibility and set the example for fellow workers.  Clearly, some CMOs already “get it.” Dozens will be speaking at the upcoming conference and hundreds more will join. But what about Fortune 100 executives leading some of the most prominent brands that touch our everyday lives? How many of them are leveraging the power of social as a best business practice?

What do you think? Does the future belong to those who know how to grow and influence their own digital networks?  Are CMOs and other C-level executives equipped to drive social inside the organization and out?

Dave Cynkin's official title is Co-Founder, CMO, Sleep Deprivationist & Thrill Seeker at BlogWorld & New Media Expo. He's a husband, proud dad of 2 active kids, staunch Seinfeld re-run and B-movie comedy fan, dabbles in graphic design, photography, video, trail running, martial arts, cycling, skiing, snowboarding, auto & go-kart racing, rock climbing and who knows what else! You can engage him in potentially humorous or semi-pithy dialogue on Twitter (@dave_blogworld)


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  • Brian M

    Good article about social CEO’S I hope more of them will embrace social media!

    • Dave Cynkin

      I think you meant to type “CMOs” Brian…but this is key, it HAS to come from the top down if a company is to effectively evolve as a social business.

      CEOs have to not only get on-board, they need to be instrumental in initiating the metamorphosis–or strongly supporting the change agents internally who are.

  • Ted L. Simon (

    Very interesting. I follow a couple of these CMO’s and they are indeed top notch in the social sphere.

    It’s also interesting from the reverse angle. From that vantage point, what seems to be a LACK of social activity among CMO’s at top ranking companies is more telling than who ranks where in the top 20. In fact, it seems a stretch to call this a “top 20″ when you look at the level of activity and connectivity below the top 10 (with the exceptions of possibly Frank Shaw and Cheryl Gilberg).

    Individuals sitting in these high ranking positions for top tier companies should easily collect thousands of followers given what they may have to say re their company, products, industry trends, marketing trends, etc. They are, or should be, industry thought leaders. Yet it seems that a number of these leaders limit their social activity and sharing. And, these are the TOP social CMOs.

    Your article hints at this issue (noting that only 20 of top 100 are active). So, props for acknowledging this scenario. Of course, this may be a function of “social” being relegated to others in the organization. I’ve seen this in some companies. At the same time, if the CMO isn’t actively engaged, then one has to wonder about the degree of commitment of the company as a whole.

    It also makes me wonder if the execs in larger companies are truly leaders in this emerging social age or whether we need to look to others for thought leadership and action leadership in the utilization and integration of social to enhance broader business objectives and strategies. Wouldn’t be the first time that innovation leadership comes from smaller, nimbler environments rather than huge corporate behemoths. In fact, that strikes me as more the norm than the exception.

    I’d love to see the same criteria applied against a broader swath of CMO’s, not just Fortune 100. I think we would find the difference between those within the larger companies and those in smaller organizations to be pretty telling.

    • Dave Cynkin

      Thank you for sharing those thoughts; very insightful, Ted.

      You wrote, “…if the CMO isn’t actively engaged, then one has to wonder about the degree of commitment of the company as a whole.”

      I would agree, and when I read that sentence, I mentally re-worded it as “…if the CMO isn’t actively engaged, then one has to wonder about the degree of commitment to understanding the customer.”

      Regarding smaller, nimbler companies furthering innovation leadership ahead of larger ones (with social for example), that’s a reality and expected condition. As you said, wouldn’t be the first time. Young companies, young technology and communication methods. It’s generational in a sense, isn’t it? It’s also easier for a small company to make steering changes while in a fluid state, before large infrastructure slows the ability to adapt and pivot. But there are definitely a few large enterprises that watch for innovative shifts and incorporate new communication methods early on. Alan Mulally started answering customers’ questions on Twitter (with Scott Monty at the keyboard) in 2008, for example. It didn’t diminish Alan’s entreé to Twitter with Scott assisting as scribe, what really mattered was that Alan took the chance to connect with customers thru one of the newest, most innovative channels at the time. There are still CEOs and CMOs of small companies all around us who’ve yet to take a similar first step through any social channels, and that’s pretty alarming to me.

    • Rick

      I completely agree with your observation Ted. I see this as a canary in the coal mine situation. It is obvious that social media has a long way to go to reach deep into the C-suite within the worlds largest businesses. We need to remember these companies can often be the slowest to adapt to disruptive change to how business is done.

      The fact that so many of these CMO’s (yes still a small percentage) are using social media regularly and some quite effectively points to the continued growing importance of social media to all businesses. I am curious if you would like to predict how much this list will change next year? Or how many of those CMO’s towards the bottom of the list significantly increase their social engagement between now and then?

  • Nyerr Parham

    Some interesting questions posed at the end, Dave. But measuring social alone seems to fall a bit short of tackling the issue of if these leaders are well-equipped to make their own businesses more socially savvy (though I understand the connection that’s being made).

    Appinions released a study last month in conjunction with Forbes that revealed the most influential CMOs based on influence beyond just social media. Measuring influence is a very involved science that must go beyond fans, like, followers, and retweets. There is some overlap between our findings and the data in this report, though we arrive at our findings using a different process. The link to the Appinions CMO influence study is below for anyone who wants to take a look.
    http://www.appinions.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Appinions_First_Annual_CMO_Study.pdf

    • Rick

      Thank you for linking to the Appinions study Neyerr. I agree with you that influence goes well beyond social media. We are really measuring two different things here.

      Social represents a specific group of communication channels and continues to grow in importance every day. We think measuring what the CMO’s at the largest companies in the world are doing with social is an important barometer of the overall evolution of social.

  • Liz Goodwin

    I was surprised by some of the marketers who made the cut for this list. For instance, when I looked up Phillip Schiller (#3) from Apple, he’d only tweeted 17 times in 2012. I couldn’t find him on Google+ nor Facebook. I would expect someone labeled a “Social CMO” to be fairly active on social media.

    I’d love to see an article about social CMOs from mid-size businesses to see if they may be more active than Fortune 100 ones.

  • Mark Fidelman

    Hi Liz, yes Philip made the list because when he does participate in social media, he has major impact. We struggled with including him or not but ultimately decided to include because of his other appearances in social media.

  • Michael Gerard

    Nice post Dave! I especially like the graphic. You’re right on about the need for CMOs to better understand the power of social, and have hands on experience with it. Especially since investment in this area will continue to increase. For example, B2B Tech CMOs are spending ~30% of their budget on digital in ’12, up from 12% in ’09. (IDC’s Mktg. & Sales Benchmarks Dbse.)

    • Dave Cynkin

      Hi Michael, thank you. That increase in monetary investment by CMO’s in digital is a good sign. It’ll be interesting to see the outcome across the small and large business landscape. Some companies will focus on social analytics and tools, out of balance with actual customer relationship development and conversation. Tools don’t do the job, they just make it more efficient. Time will tell, we’ll see who makes best use of their social capabilities and who still misses the mark… :)

  • Sai Kumar

    Hi, Great list of Top 20 Social CMOs. Thanks for Sharing this Great article!

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