All in? Skip it? What's the place for social media?
There's perhaps no topic with more written about it than this one. And yet there's no answer.
Folks tend to come down on one extreme or the other. Marketers love the idea of reach, low cost message broadcast, and the ever seductive lotto like probability of 'going viral.' On the other hand, B2B industrial business owners and managers are skeptical. They've dumped money into these trends....and seen no substantial return.
There's no resolution to this debate because the premise is entirely wrong.
Stop asking "How can we use Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest/G+/etc. to grow traffic and buzz?"
Start asking "Based on our target personas, what tools are prospects using; how; when; and for what purpose?"
And then build a social media component of your business development plan around what works - not what technology can do!
Screw "Throwback Thursday" in favor of "Tablet Saturday"
Sure I could have said "smartphone Saturday" for a bit of alliteration, but part of the dysfunction with social media for B2B sales is the whole preoccupation with gimmicks.
It's got to be intuitively clear that the only business value comes from being where your prospects are, when they are and with the type of information they seek.
For business execs, that means their tablets on Saturday mornings looking for "in depth analysis and company information" according to research by CNBC via Warc.
CNBC also found that US execs are not particularly inclined to share information by social media themselves (compared to their European & Asian peers,) but that doesn't mean the don't use social media tools...
Forget Facebook and leverage LinkedIn
It should be pretty clear that LinkedIn is the place to be for serious B2B work. It's a rapidly growing social network. Is every prospect an active LinkedIn user? No. And of those that are active, are all engaging in group dialogs? Again, no. Some may be just trolling for jobs, and many will lurk in conversations without participating. Is that a problem? Well, that depends.
If your approach is to just blast stuff out, you'll fade into the noise. After all, since 74% of buyers select vendors that first provide value, they're not looking for newsfeeds, they're looking for value. And if the value is in your expertise, then the way you share it is through discussions and referrals to your substantive content offers which provide deeper dives into topics.
And this takes time and work. Just like the stereotypical goon that cruises networking events frenetically distributing business cards, many devolve to a similar approach to LinkedIn. And they achieve the same lame results (as in none) as the goon. Social media success is ultimately based on brains, creativity, insight & personality. The latter doesn't have to be flamboyant, just genuine. But again, it's time & work - and it's not an accident. It should be strategized and executed according to a full business development plan..
And Twitter, et al?
If LinkedIn is where the action is with your prospects, and "59% of LinkedIn users don't visit Twitter," then wasting time on other channels is absurd, right?
Well, maybe....but...what about?
- the journalists with whom you want to engage who aren't trolling industrial groups but are filtering news?
- the next generations of technical folks with whom you want to create dialog?
- the 'social signals' that Google weighs in search results?
The reality is that between the curmudgeonly technophobe CEO and the inanity of the marketing intern Instagramming every cheeseburger they eat, is an exciting component of a successful business development plan.
But investing resources in the right place, at the right time and with the right focus takes expertise and insight which melds the procedural approach of most marketing agencies and the traditional approach of most industrial manufacturers.
Wondering if social media can be a practical component of your business development plan? Let's chat. In the meantime download our free eBook on the biggest risks of B2B social media marketing