61% of companies have not made social media a part of their marketing strategy.
35% of B2Bs don’t think social media is critical for their business.
Those are just some of the astounding statistics published by the Social Media Examiner in its 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, which surveyed nearly 4,000 marketers, of which approximately half were B2B marketers.
The reason these numbers are baffling is that with all that we know about the power of social networking sites and the rapidly growing online population flocking to these media, B2Bs continue to turn a deaf ear, convinced that the selling secrets of the 1960’s will ring true again one day.
Let’s face it: We are eons away from the Ad Men era. Today, everyone with the right technological skills can create riveting ads and go viral. Why spend thousands of dollars for a PR firm to distribute your press release when you can post it online yourself and (maybe) reach an even larger audience? That isn’t to say that PR firms are a thing of the past. They have clout, and the right kind. But social networking sites are filled with lead opportunities and if you’re not out there, you’re missing out. Here’s why:
Your clients and their clients are there… and so are your competitors and employees.
In other words, everyone you should be engaging with is there. They’re talking about your industry, your business, your type of services – but your name is either nowhere to be found or it has been dragged through the mud by a frustrated employee. Too many B2Bs are not even aware of what is being said about their companies online. Don’t make that mistake. Be there to react and resolve issues that can hinder your results.
B2Bs typically prefer to use terms like “cost effectiveness” but if you’re going to be using social networking sites, you need to learn to get to the point. There are millions of other companies online striving to get your clients’ attention – don’t lose them with your prose. So let’s keep it simple: It’s cheap. Especially when compared to traditional PR and marketing efforts. The only investment you need to be making to get started is to hire a social media guru. Don’t attempt to “wing” it with just anyone. It’s not because someone is an avid user of social networking sites that they are qualified to lead your marketing strategy in that regard.
Build your brand, improve your reputation, and reinforce your credibility.
Think of it as a more modern and wider-reaching alternative to publishing an article in a trade magazine. If you do it right, it draws attention to your expertise, and helps mitigate the feeling of risk for your potential clients. If they can see your skills and hear their counterparts brag about your strengths, they will have more confidence in your promise to deliver.
Attract the best talent.
Showcase your ingenuity and promote your corporate culture to generate interest from qualified and experienced personnel. The younger generations don’t commit to a single employer through their entire career life like baby boomers and late Gen X employees did. They want to be challenged and given the opportunity to grow in their field. Give them a reason to bring their expert skills to help you succeed.
The foundation of your business model is trust. Companies don’t hire consultants on a whim. According to the 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, more than half of B2B marketers with a social networking strategy have acquired new business partnerships through social media. Actively participating in social networks is not about the number of followers you have or the visitors you can lure to your website. It’s about engaging current and potential clients, understanding their concerns and interest, and being there to build the relationship they seek (not selling them the one you wish to provide).
Gather vital market data.
Conduct engaging surveys, seek out your industry’s opinion, and enhance the quality of your market research. Join your clients in discussions, and become part of their inner circle. Follow your customer base, and see what they do online, the influence they have, and who they listen to. Build new social media fields into your CRM software, and log their channel, handle, interest, activity, influence, etc. to improve the efficiency of your targeting efforts.
Extend your reach, and boost event attendance.
Word of mouth is the most honest and most efficient form of marketing. Capitalize on it by using sharing technologies, such as RSS feeds, ShareThis and AddThis, to your online presence. If you are still focusing on email marketing and your website to promote your events, you are leaving out a very large portion of potential attendees. Think about all those who don’t know you exist or haven’t given you their email addresses. Further expand your distribution list by promoting your events and publications on social networking sites. Take advantage of the buzz it generates to ask readers and followers to opt in to your “community.” In exchange, reward them with helpful advice, blog update notifications and exclusive white papers, webcasts or podcasts, for instance.
Remember: If you build it, they will come.
Today, networking happens both on and offline. Social media is about community and engagement, so avoid overt marketing tactics online. Don’t post about the benefits of your services or the wonderfulness of your company. Instead, focus on becoming a thought leader in your market by giving useful advice and demonstrating the depth of your intellectual capital. Early this month, Forbes published an article on this very topic. “Engage me, communicate with me, add value to my business, solve my problems, create opportunity for me, educate me, inform me, but don’t try and sell me,” wrote author Mike Myatt. Once potential clients begin to seek your advice, visit your website or engage with you online, you are a step closer to a sale.
Before getting started, plan. What are your goals? Where are your clients? Can you generate enough content to ensure a consistent, regular presence? Do you have the manpower to respond to the demand and stay abreast of new trends? How are you planning to turn interested parties into clients?
One of the pitfalls of social media is that it is so simple, many companies just jump into it without thinking. They feel they need to have a presence, but they’re not sure why. Now that we’ve given you the reasons why, go out there and learn about the different channels available. Not every one of them will be useful to your company. Don’t be anywhere and everywhere. Be smart. But don’t throw anything out until you’ve done the research and have the numbers to back up your decisions.
Calculating the return on your investment may be one of the biggest challenges you will face once you open the social media doors. But there are solutions. Contact us for more information.
Penton Marketing Services http://forms.pentonmarketingservices.com/forms/B2Bmarketinginsights?cid=Wpsite
Marketo – The Definitive Guide to B2B Social Media http://www.marketo.com/b2b-marketing-resources/best-practices/video-social-media/social-media-definitive-guide.php