In this article, you'll learn...
- Legitimate concerns B2Bs have about investing in social media campaigns
- Why B2B can't afford to stay out of social media
Janet, a senior executive at one of our B2B clients, recently said to me, "Social media just doesn't feel like an important area of investment for us. We're not selling to consumers, we're selling to hardcore businesspeople. I think we'd be wasting our time and money."
I couldn't blame her for being skeptical. Though no one can deny the explosive popularity of social media, some hard-core justifications for its B2B use have yet to be laid out.
Businesses of all sizes are executing Twitter campaigns, creating Facebook business pages, and producing corporate blogs and YouTube videos they hope will "go viral." Those things can work when targeting consumers, but do they work when targeting other businesses?
The jury's still out, but B2B companies are nonetheless rushing to jump on the social media bandwagon for fear of being left behind in an environment full of constant paradigm shifts that occur at lightning speed.
But the concerns Janet expressed are real. Here's why:
- "Show me the metrics!" Unless you have a windfall success story, like Avaya's quarter-million-dollar deal, which came in large part thanks to Twitter, there aren't a lot of solid B2B examples to site yet, particularly when compared to the plethora of B2C successes.
- "Show me the money!" Executives understandably want to see solid links between investments in marketing programs and real revenue. Tracking makes it easy to see the number of friends, followers, connections, and comments one is getting, but how does that translate to the bottom line? Does a popular blog result in any measurable dollars? Maybe not. Finding these links can be a nebulous, if not, impossible venture. For some, that's a deal breaker.
- "Show me the point!" Janet commented on wasting time. Social media takes time, and lots of it. It's no small task in time or expense to establish a professional presence in social media. It's also not something you should start and stop. It's a commitment to an effort that may not bring much ROI for quite a while. But half-hearted attempts don't impress and can actually do harm. So if you're not up for the long swim, don't dip your toe in the water.
So why are B2Bs increasing their investments?
If the above sounds pretty dismal, why are 86% of B2B companies investing in some form of social media, compared to only 82% of B2Cs? For starters, consider that social media isn't the first time a technology, initially targeted for personal use, has transformed into a major business tool. Think instant messaging, smartphones, and smartphone apps, which were originally designed for personal use and fun and were frowned upon by the business world. It's hard not to see a similar trend with social media.
I shared the following four thoughts with Janet.
Glenn Gow is an expert in marketing technology, an advisory board member, author, speaker, podcast host, and the CEO of Crimson Marketing. Follow his insights on marketing technology at the Crimson Marketing Technology Blog and read his book, Moneyball for Marketing: How Brilliant Marketers Use Big Data and Marketing Technology to Win.
LinkedIn: Glenn Gow