CIO Magazine: October Issue

Social Media Rehab for CIOs

From CEOs on Twitter to companies crowdsourcing product innovations or rescuing their reputations, social media strategy is becoming a core competency for CIOs and C-suites everywhere, writes Editor in Chief Maryfran Johnson. What should your company be doing differently?

Of all the questions I ask CIOs (and I've got an arsenal at my command), there's always one that stops the conversation cold. "So what are you doing with social media?" Um, me personally or my company? "Either." Um, well, let me think ...

That's the moment when I scurry back onto safe ground with a quick topic switch to mobile strategies or (my current favorite) what's next for "the digital enterprise." Sighs of relief all around.

CIOs don't like talking about social media because most don't use it regularly or see much business value there. Even fewer are directly involved in company strategies to leverage it with customers. Isn't that what the marketing department does?

Well, my friends, do we have a must-read story for you. "How Social Media Can Influence High-Stakes Business Decisions" will snap your eyes open to the dramatic rewards skillful companies are reaping from some of the most unstructured data around. At the very least, this story will give you some great talking points for the next conversation with your CMO.

"Companies are using advanced social techniques to rehabilitate corporate reputations, uncover ideas for breakthrough products, and figure out what competitors are up to," reports Managing Editor Kim S. Nash in her insightful story. Using detailed examples from Virgin America, Wells Fargo, Domino's and Ford, Nash explores the many nimble ways social media goes "way beyond counting 'likes' to deliver serious ROI."

Did we say ROI? Yes indeed. Virgin America used a social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter to secure two gates at the Dallas Love Field airport, outmaneuvering hometown favorite Southwest Airlines in the bargain. Domino's rehabbed its bad pizza reputation with a sustained social media strategy that starts with CEO Patrick Doyle. "We're listening, reacting to customers, and doing something about it," he says.

Social media can aid and abet your company's competitive intelligence gathering, such as using LinkedIn to track connections of top salespeople at rival companies to see what new markets they're chasing. Imagine adding an IT spin to that info with the addition of internal data from supply chain, marketing and point-of-sale systems. So what might your company do with the right mix of people from marketing, communications and IT all thinking differently about social?

Maybe that's the question I should have been asking all along.

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