How to become a CMO in 10 tweets or less

This headline is just a bit ridiculous, of course!   But I did want to make a point that social media works in amazing and unanticipated ways.  This week, I’m featuring personal case studies to show how the social web can provide legitimate business benefits, sometimes when you least expect it!

The first example is about how I became the Chief  Marketing Officer of Freesource … without ever meeting my new boss.

About a year ago I saw notice on a LinkedIn Group that the American Marketing Association was offering a webinar on using the social web to make your business more efficient.  The presenter was a guy named Nathan Egan, a former LinkedIn exec who had just started a company called Freesource.  The price was right — free — so I attended.  Nathan seemed like a bright guy and at the end of the webinar, he invited the participants to follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn, so I did.

Getting on the radar

Through Twitter, I appeared on Nathan’s radar and he began reading my blog.  The topics I wrote about resonated with him, and, like many readers of {grow}, one day he called me to talk through some of his business problems. We continued to support each other and toss ideas around over a period of months.

Nathan assembled a great team and Freesource grew quickly as businesses sought the company’s advice on using the social web to make their businesses more productive and efficient.  As the client base grew, he needed a wide variety of resources to support projects, and, since I can do a wide variety of things, I seemed to fit the bill!  Nathan began sending me paid assignments to fill in the many white spaces of a start-up company.

I loved the work because our views on business and marketing were aligned and I absolutely bought into his vision of how the new media could work for a corporation. As Nathan’s trust in me grew, he provided more important, strategic assignments.

Freesource quickly became one of the largest and most respected social media marketing agencies in the country.  Nathan no longer had time to work on the critical marketing functions of his company and asked me if I could help.  I recently agreed to become CMO on a part-time basis and help him through this exciting growth phase.

The success formula

This is a good time to reflect on that important formula I introduced a few months ago:

Connections + Meaningful content + Authentic helpfulness = Business benefits

How this worked in the real world:

  • I was active on LinkedIn and established relevant new business connections.
  • By providing meaningful content through Twitter, I appeared on Nathan’s radar screen. Ideas from my blog grabbed his attention.
  • We offered authentic helpfulness to each other without regard of any future “pay-back.”  This built trust and a dialogue that led to a mutually-beneficial business partnership.

The more I’ve studied success stories in the social media space, the more I am convinced that this formula really does work.  This week, I’ll share a couple other examples to show how.

How does this fit with your own experiences on the social web?

This is part of a series on the unexpected business benefits of the social web. You might enjoy these other articles:

Part 2: On Twitter, even casual tweets can create business benefits

Part 3: LinkedIn: A goldmine of business opportunity

All posts

  • Terrific story and your Twitter tutelage is clear :).. Would love your comments or a post on how specifically you are active on Linked In.

  • Jean-Marie

    Nice article. While the page was loading I was thinking “yet another catchy headline that shows us the results that took months to pull off” and you admit that in the first phrase 🙂

    brilliant example of how you can position yourself as a reference point to attract more business.

  • Mark

    @Marc LinkedIn is a powerful tool and my perception is that it is very under-utilized. Your post suggestion is a good one and I’ll put it in the queue!

    @Jean-Marie Thanks for your kind words.

  • Great post, Mark (and definitely a catchy headline).

    Really drives home the points on how proper “personal management” in today’s world can drive business progress. Authenticity rules – phonies need not apply.

    Looking forward to following you on Twitter!

  • Mark

    @ Ted — Glad to have you in the {grow} community Ted!

  • Mark, This success story is an excellent case study for B2B marketers. For as long as the new business relationship remains mutually beneficial, the ROI is unlimited.

    I don’t know many people in marketing that like wasting time. Marketing experts like you that invest your time in social media wisely aren’t just doing it for the fun of it, you’re obviously seeing results.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Mark

    @Billy Yes, I am writing this week about a variety of excellent business results. And of course there are the personal benefits as well. Like getting to meet you soon … I hope!

  • A pattern that’s beginning to repeat. Parallels my own experience – joining my current company Nuxeo as CMO last Sept. A 100% social media driven process that I’ve started to share with local tech job hunters. Our CEO blogged here recently on the recruiting process:

  • Mark

    @Cheryl GREAT case study! Thanks for sharing.

  • Jim LeBlanc

    Does this mean you are not doing the consulting business any more?

  • Mark

    @ Jim Yes, I will continue my consulting business, as well as my teaching assignments. I will be CMO for Freesource on a part-time basis. I’m not interested in the 9-5 any more : )

  • Perfect example of how return on investment in social media isn’t just financial (although obviously your job pays). Love the fact it was the relationship to the sale and that it was mutual trust that led to the perfect partnership.

    My current position at Maritz Canada came about in a similar manner. Shannon Boudjema (@ShannonBoudjema on Twitter) had been “politely stalking” me for a couple of months. She was the SM strategist at Maritz, but had to move back to the UK, so she was tasked with sourcing out her replacement. I came into her radar, she listened, monitored, took notes, etc. Then she reached out, asked if I’d be interested in meeting, and about 2 weeks later I was part of Maritz Canada’s social overhaul.

    There’s real value in them thar networks. 🙂

    PS – you need some awesome widgets 😉

  • Mark – It is amazing to see you take control. It is cool :))

    Great personal story, and insights we can all learn from.


  • Mark

    @Danny (aka “Widget King”) Thanks for sharing your personal success story. This stuff really does work. Yes, it’s always been about building relationships, but the social web enables the most unlikely, most unexpected, and most wonderful connections! Thanks so much for stopping by!

    @ Prince Thanks!

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