Purpose: The commentary paper aims to delve into how social media are being used by chief marketing officers (CMOs) and shows that while many in business-to-customer have understood how to use social media already, their CMO counterparts in business-to-business (B2B) have not made up their minds. So some key questions are raised about B2B CMOs’ readiness to use social media, what this accomplishes and resulting effects upon the role of the CMO within an organisation. Design/methodology/approach: The research paper involves use of case studies drawn from IBM experience with social media. Findings: B2B CMOs are not ready to make use of social media. Even those who are actively engaging are expressing concern that they are pioneering and have not yet put in place a strategy that they are satisfied with. In addition, social media can be used for after-sales service, getting sales leads, engaging with key influencers, building the company’s reputation and enhancing the industry status of key individuals. B2B firms need to exploit the capabilities of processing massive amounts of data to get the most from social media. Originality/value: The paper brings insights to the challenges facing CMOs of B2B firms when using social media. It provides a better understanding of what should be the role of CMOs in the use of social media. The CMO must be the voice of the customer as well as the custodian of the values that enable effective use of social media. Effective collaboration within the boardroom is essential and if the CMO is not a board member, then the company should consider making that change.