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Three Factors to Consider Before You Jump on the Social Media Bandwagon

by Lee Erickson  |  
May 20, 2008

Editor's note: See Lee in person at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum, Driving Sales: What's New + What Works. Catch her session on "Creating a B-to-B Social Media Strategy: A Guide to Defining It and How Your Company Should Take the Social Media Plunge." Sign up for the event and use promo code ESPK08 to save $200 on the registration fee.

If you're like most B2B marketers, you're probably wondering whether you need to jump on the social media bandwagon. You're likely getting asked whether your company should start a blog, open a Facebook account, or be on YouTube.

Every day there's a new hot site, a new viral marketing success (or horror) story, or a new technology to learn about. There's a lot to keep up with, and it's continually evolving.

So how do you decide what to do?

Start by taking a giant step backward and assessing the social media landscape as it relates to your market, your buyers, and your competitors.

Here are three key factors to consider.

1. What's going on in my market?

Identify where your buyers go to learn about new products and services. What are the destination sites and who are the influencers (also known as A-listers) in your market?

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Lee Erickson is cofounder and president of Erickson Barnett (, a B2B technology marketing firm. She can be reached at

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  • by Gina Gaudio-Graves Tue May 20, 2008 via web

    Great article! I would add a few comments to a fairly thorough analysis ...

    First, one of my favorite sources for researching both who your market really is and what your customers are already doing online is:

    Using this tool (totally free!), you would first look up each of your competitors sites. Pay attention to the demographics of their site visitors (quite often, they are NOT who you think they should be!). Also look at both the Brand & Site affinities as well as the sites with similar audiences.

    When a site appears in the Brand & Site affinities, this tells you that these visitors are also spending quite a bit of time on THOSE sites. When a site appears in the Similar Audiences this tells you that these visitors would also be interested in those products.

    This can be invaluable in learning about what your customers want! Sometimes you even luck out and find social media sites right in the Similar Audiences or Brand & Site Affinities lists. Those are the sites you REALLY want to focus on heavily!

    The second comment that I would make is with regard to blogging. In today's internet, blogging is not just an option -- it's an essential for EVERY business! In fact, I consider a blog so essential that I would even recommend changing the index page of your primary site to make it a blog. I suggest this for several reasons:

    1) When you change the focus of your site from selling to relationship building, your customers are more likely to perceive your company as an influencer. When they do, it is MUCH easier to get them to buy anything! In fact, once this happens, they buy because of the information you are giving them and hype filled ads become completely unnecessary. Simply put your product in front of them through the content of the blog. Show your product as a solution to their problem. And they'll buy over and over again! (There's a great article on influence at .)

  • by Lee Erickson Tue May 20, 2008 via web

    @Gina, thanks for your comments (looks like some got cut off).

    Totally with changing the focus of your site from selling to building relationships. It's definitely a shift from the traditional marketing sites and I know many marketers are struggling with exactly how to do this. Again I agree that putting helpful content in front of your buyer is the key.

    I'm not sure I would go as far as to say "every" business should have a blog. As I'm sure you (and any other bloggers) know, it takes time and resources to keep a blog up to date. I would say that every business should, however, be leveraging the power of blogs.

    While some B2B tech companies don't have the resources, or even the culture, that's needed to keep a blog alive and current that doesn't mean they can't leverage the influence of exiting blogs by joining in conversations already going on and by syndicating their content (whitepapers, how-to guides, etc.).

    Additionally, they can begin to create relationships with a-listers in the hopes that they'll review or blog about the company's products or services.

    Thanks also for the QuantCast reference. I'll check it out. Another tool that I just learned about today that looks pretty interesting is Addict-o-matic. If anyone's using that would love your thoughts.

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