Professional marketers — myself included — have been singing the praises of social media for close to a decade now. It’s easy to understand why. Social media works for marketers in every sense of the word, from knowledge sharing to relationship building to brand awareness to lead generation. If it works for me, we think, why wouldn’t it work for everyone?
On the other hand, B2B leadership has been highly skeptical of social media, lo these many years. And again, it’s easy to understand why. B2Bs are sales-driven, with complex value propositions and long sales cycles. From their perspective, it’s hard to see how a 140-character tweet could have any impact at all. In a gritty, concrete world social media looks like a frivolous distraction.
The healthiest attitude a B2B can take toward social media marketing: Talk me into it. I won’t divert a dollar from my sales or marketing budget into social media unless you can give me compelling reasons why I should, and also give me a way to measure results.
This is going to make for a very tough sell. Does the B2B’s customer base use social media — often the answer is no. Assuming the customer base uses social media, are they interested in talking about gritty concrete — often the answer is no. Assuming they are interested in talking about gritty concrete, does the B2B have the creativity and bandwidth to produce attention-getting, conversation-provoking content on a regular basis — often the answer is no.
I could go on … and on and on. Are there exceptions? Are there companies that knock the ball out of the park with social media? Of course — but these companies are exceptions because they have exceptional foundational characteristics, such as a strong marketing temperament from the top down and a talented, versatile and enthused social media marketing staff.
Social media appeals to certain B2Bs that want to be on the “cutting edge.” To me that, in and of itself, seems like a flimsy rationale for embarking on something as complex, costly and time consuming as social media. In any event, the cutting edge train left the social media station a few years back. If B2Bs want to hop onboard something new, they should consider mobile marketing or content marketing. Both of these are here to stay and, unlike social, hold enormous potential for a multitude of B2Bs.
(Image credit:© julien tromeur – Fotolia.com)