Social Success for the CMO: Four Signs You’re Doing It Right


Social intelligence is a vital component of a CMO’s toolkit. Any modern, innovative CMO knows that to be successful he or she must integrate multiple data streams to glean valuable and actionable information for Marketing, Sales, and the wider business. Social insights provide vital support for a brand’s marketing efforts.

I’ve previously explored why CMOs should be factoring social into their overall agenda; developing an understanding for how the benefits of social listening can reach beyond just the marketing and sales departments; and knowing how to start using social insights and campaign measurement/ROI.

In this installment, I will further explore that last piece: how CMOs can tell whether their social listening efforts are actually having an impact on their business.

First, CMOs (and other consumer insights professionals) must lose the outdated assumption that social listening value can’t be measured because we can’t attach or attribute hard numbers to it. Because we can. CMOs just need to know where to look to evaluate how successful they are in their quest to effectively harness insights to support broader marketing efforts.

Although there are numerous key performance indicators (KPIs) that any CMO can use to measure social success, the following four are the most surefire for telling whether you’re executing a successful social strategy:

  1. Content engagement levels
  2. Consumer sentiment
  3. Consumer market insights
  4. Business impact on non-marketing departments

Content Engagement

Content engagement is a great way to evaluate whether you are actually reaching consumers with the blogs, case studies, and bespoke branded content you are amplifying on social.

It’s a noisy world, especially when trying to gain share of mind and voice on social media, and most people don’t care about most of the content you or I, or anyone else, publishes. So one way to check the effectiveness of your content is by measuring social engagement.

Simply look back at historical data around previous engagement. Did you run content around a similar topic or scope last year? If so, you can do a comparative analysis between past and current content, measuring the number of shares, untagged mentions or links, and social interactions that occurred during both efforts.

CMOs should also be measuring click-through rates of both earned and owned social content. If click-through rates are on the incline, that’s a major indicator that your content (and your brand) is winning on social.

Finally, tools like Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics allow you to actually track how successful a specific post was—a great way for deciphering which campaigns or materials are most engaging and causing users to react well to.


Another powerful measurement to determine success for social listening efforts is to evaluate overall consumer sentiment. Has consumer sentiment become even more positive since executing active social listening—or has it fallen?

“Opinion mining”, as we call it, is a critical tool to measure the level of success of any social campaign or content push. It’s also a success indicator that should be consistently monitored. For example, being able to discover a sudden shift or drop in positive sentiment can be critical information to your brand.

Opinion mining is an incredible indicator of where you stand with you customers, allowing you to detect shifts in consumer attitudes toward your brand, to become privy to the positive and negative feedback about your products, to signal customer service issues, and to help you compare your brand perception against your competitors. Such mining doesn’t have to be done manually; there are, actual technologies to help your team garner insights on audience sentiment—and to collect that data in real time.

Consumer Market Insights

Consumer market insights are another measure of how successfully you’ve harnessed insights from social listening.

First, do you actually have solid and new insights about your consumers? A great indication of success is whether you and your marketing team have been able to make use of insights to connect with your target audience on a deeper and more personalized level.

An untapped resource is the “white space conversation” on social media; those are the discussions that don’t directly mention a particular brand or product, but they can hold a world of information about consumer preferences, opinions, and ideas.

Consumer market insights drawn from social media conversations through active and deep social listening can be analyzed to create better content, and to develop a tone and language that matches that of a brand’s audience. You can uncover unsung advocates, or influential dissenters, to engage with, and engage them accordingly to ensure you’re a presence to be contended with—as much if not more so than the competition.

Business Impact

Finally, it’s important that CMOs measure the overall business impact in relation to their social efforts. Social data can reveal pertinent and helpful information—from brand trust issues to customer service complaints to changing attitudes toward product features.

Those insights are the foundation upon which any brand can totally transform itself in order to maintain relevance with the modern consumer. For example, social insights can help a company monetize customer complaints in real-time by providing the opportunity for brands to turn a resentful customer into a loyal one.

Social done right can also help the research & development and product management teams gauge the effectiveness of their products and messaging and assess buying patterns.

* * *

As a CMO, you need to ask yourself whether your social insights are being used in a way that is actually moving the needle for your company.

Is it resulting in real revenue? Is it being used in every capacity to influence positive and success-driven change, such as revamping product design, changing the tone or language of brand content, or any other array of use cases?

If the answer is “yes,” you’re well on your way to success as a “social CMO.

This article first appeared in

About Author

Will McInnes

Will McInnes is CMO of social intelligence platform Brandwatch. He's also a board member of the Big Boulder Initiative, the mission of which is to establish the foundation for the long-term success of the social data industry..

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