I hear a lot of people ask about the relevance of social media in B2B Marketing. Normally these questions follow presentations by industry commentators that have contained high-profile, consumer examples of brands that have successfully engaged with their customers through these channels.
B2B businesses, whatever their size, need to answer some basic questions before they decide to jump in. This is by no means exhaustive, but there are three important i’s that need to be dotted before you even think about embarking on a programme:
insight– who in your target audience is using social media, how and how often? Are your competitors there? How are they using it? What sort of conversations are taking place? In what tone? Can you answer any questions being asked? Are people discussing problems or issues that you can help with? If so, then think about joining in the discussion, but do not sell- you need to build trust and respect first.
investment– although many of the social media tools available are ‘free’ in monetary terms, you will still need to make an investment in time and energy to take part in the communities which interest you. Although tools such as TweetDeck allow you to schedule twitter updates to be sent during the day automatically, don’t over-use this. Make sure you balance them with timely ‘human’ contributions throughout the day.
integration– how well do social media activities ‘fit’ alongside your other marketing activities? Are your staff online? Do you have subject matter experts within the business that can write compelling content to share with your customers and prospects via blogs and other online communities? One size rarely fits all, so consider the mix of communications you will employ and their respective impact on lead flow and sales before putting all of your eggs in the social media basket.
If you’ve dotted these three i’s and feel you’re ready to go, please make sure you review this excellent list of 10 considerations from Mack Collier first. Although ‘Social Media Policy’ sounds scary and corporate, these are common sense and practical considerations that you’ll ignore at your peril.