Citi Exec: Social Media Is the New Golf Course

Frank Eliason riffs on b-to-b and emerging media at Advertising Week

Frank Eliason, Citi's global social media director, teed off a discussion today at Advertising Week IX about how social media can humanize business-to-business sales calls.

"Social media is the new golf course," he proclaimed.

Getting to know potential business contacts via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook is an underutilized tactic, the digital vet suggested. Such efforts, he said, are "about scalable intimacy. I know who my customer is."

After speaking at a LinkedIn-sponsored event in New York, Eliason told Adweek that LinkedIn trumped Twitter when it comes to Citi's ad spend while only trailing Facebook among social channels (though his team plans on increasing its Twitter investment). But does LinkedIn beat Facebook for return on investment? Eliason, within earshot of a handful of other marketers, smiled and then replied, "I'm probably going to decline to answer that one, even though I have my view."

Earlier on stage, he riffed on the b-to-b marketing potential of LinkedIn when it comes to white papers or any other kinds of messaging. "I can reach the leadership that needs to read this thing," he said. "That interests me."

Eliason—a digital head at Comcast before joining Citi two years ago—also said paid social media advertising can still entail many moving parts. He added his brand continuously tests the new ad products that emerging channels have been regularly putting out during the last two years.

"Every campaign you wind up learning something different," Eliason said. "What we found is—in any of these spaces—when you are targeting right, that's where you get the real value, as long as its relevant to what consumers want. The challenges for the social organizations—the Facebooks, the LinkedIns, the Twitters—is to make sure that their products come with social relevance. Because if it's not relevant, the user is likely going to look at [the ads] as spam. And I am not certain any of them are fully there. I think they are getting there."