Is CMS the Jan Brady of the C-Suite?

by on March 29, 2010

Organizations working toward web content management success often struggle with a management disconnect. CxOs are too busy driving the business to care about the nuts and bolts of the web or how it’s all governed. Meanwhile, folks in the trenches – marketing, IT, brand people – are doing heroic work, but often without the upper level buy-in or support. 

Positive vibes from the C-suite can establish the agenda for web success – setting the business vision, guiding cross-team cooperation, ensuring proper funding for CMS projects and mandating web governance.

Easier said than done. And it’s not getting any easier.

Social media is taking the C-suite by storm.  Top level execs who can barely spell CMS can’t get enough of the strategies and tactics for leveraging Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, web video, and other parts of the social ecosystem.

It feels like a scene from the Brady Bunch, where Jan Brady always plays second fiddle to favorite daughter Marcia – she’s prettier, smarter, more popular and is always the center of attention.

Just like Jan’s frustrated whine “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” we wouldn’t be surprised to hear a similar echo from web teams shouting “Social, social, social!”

With social now the new darling of the C-suite, CxOs are throwing themselves into the middle of it all to enhance their brand, reach new customers and service existing ones.

At a recent BIMA  (Boston Interactive Media Association) event in Cambridge, a panel of social media marketers and consultants hit a consistent theme: corporate execs have ravenous appetites right now for planning and executing social media strategies.

To be fair, a CEO’s interest in social media is sort of easy to understand. Social media is tied closely to the identity of a company, to customer service and brand value. (But then again, so is a CMS-enabled website. But I digress.)  CEOs are often the public face of their companies social media efforts (Zappos’ CEO set the bar here.)

Marketing strategist Lois Kelly of Beeline Labs described the rush by C-level execs in companies like Dell and FedEx to invest time, money and brainpower into social. They’re not just checking in every few months – they’re sitting at the head of the table, defining strategy and setting execution in motion. They’re creating (and funding and empowering) new positions like directors of social media. They’re demanding weekly status updates on how their company is performing in social media circles and delivering new services  – and keeping tabs on the competition.

And it’s getting more serious. For example, Kelly is planning an April Conference Board event in New York to teach CEOs how to be leaders in social media. (So popular is the event, according to the website, they’re moving to a larger venue.) 

Other trendspotting in social media that web CMS warriors can (mostly) dream about:

  • Companies are creating large-scale internal education programs to teach employees the value and importance of all-hands-on-deck approach to social media. It’s now in their corporate DNA.
  • Smart companies are hiring social media “ninjas” – marketers in their mid-20s who know a little about business but a lot about leveraging social CRM
  • Business process consultants are getting into the strategic social media consulting game in a big way at large corporations

The attention from CEOs is welcome news as social media becomes a more critical piece of the overall marketing mix. But we might ask: Where was all the attention when Web 1.0 and 2.0 initiatives and web CMS-driven initiatives were taking shape?

Regardless, we’d love to hear your comments on the interplay at your company among web strategy, CMS, social and where the C-suite is making its voice heard.

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