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In 2012, Gartner predicted that by 2017, CMOs would spend more money on IT than CIOs. This prediction already seems to be manifesting. Marketing technology is becoming inundated with clouds, stacks, innovation, and funding.

Marketers should be aware that social also is a critical ingredient in the marketing mix. Social is an important channel for buzz and awareness, content marketing, lead generation, and sales. If marketers are ignoring social, they are missing a key component in their marketing machine's foundation.

CMOs should also know that beyond mastering the science of the tweet on their personal handles, social intelligence offers a swift route to highly strategic decision-making and targeted marketing for increased business results. The "social CMO" gets it and knows what social data arms his or her team with the insights to influence the performance of core business operations, such as product development, customer service, even HR, finance, and beyond.

Equipped with social intelligence and a strategic action plan, the CMO no longer answers to "just" the sales organization. That combination of tools paves the way in the boardroom.

Take a look at a few examples that illustrate how having a socially savvy CMO can positively affect organizations' bottom line.

1. Monetize Complaints

Your company's social presence is also your main customer service channel. Just ask customers.

Lithium Technologies discovered that 53% of customers who ask a brand a question on Twitter expect a response within one hour regardless of when they tweeted, with that percentage rising to 72% if the post is a complaint.

Not all companies, however, do a great job of responding quickly. Another study found that only 11.2% of retail brands respond to questions within one hour; in fact most take 24 hours. What's the risk here? At best, you'll have one disgruntled customer who won't buy from you again. At worst, it can become a disastrous and negative trending Twitter storm that does more damage to your reputation than you can imagine.

Social media gives disgruntled customers a platform for complaints, but it also provides the opportunity for brands to turn a resentful customer into a loyal one.

Close collaboration with your customer service team allows you to flag complaints in real time, all while having the processes in place to turn complaints into future revenue. After all, customers who receive great service via social media will spend 21% more money.

2. Properly Prepare for Product Launches

More than 250,000 consumer tech products are launched each year, and 95% of them result in failure. (Remember 3-D TVs? It's OK; nobody else does either.)

Utilization of data from social listening platforms can help CMOs identify precise online platforms and forums where discussions are happening, allowing them to engage with target audiences to learn preferences and wants. It's incredibly valuable to tune into chatter around a specific product or industry that doesn't directly mention your brand or competitors.

Analysis of this data can provide R&D and product management teams with strategic insights into user demands and can illustrate a clearer picture of the customer journey, from product development to when it hits the market.

Using social listening, you can gauge the effectiveness of your messaging, tune into your audience response, assess buying patterns, and also listen to and strategically address customer complaints.

3. Combat Employee Negativity

It's highly debatable whether expressing job dissatisfaction over social media is OK. However, listening in can be incredibly useful from an HR perspective.

Monster recently studied more than 1.1 million tweets to analyze when, where, and why people talk about their jobs on Twitter. The research found employees in the western half of the US tweeted about loving their jobs at a higher ratio than hating their jobs, whereas almost half of all those tweeting more negatively about their jobs were located in the Northeast.

CMOs and their company's HR professionals can collaboratively analyze potential triggers that prompt workers to take to Twitter to complain. HR can also create campaigns and programs to re-engage current employees and anticipate imminent hiring needs.

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Social data is tangible proof of what's happened and what may be about to happen. We're on the verge of being able to use social to tell us what's going to happen next.

Turning social data into insights that justify strategic decision-making and action will be what delineates the success of the (now imperative) career-savvy social CMO. Social intelligence is the best weapon in a social CMO's arsenal.

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image of 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..

LinkedIn: Will McInnes