June 1, 2011

B2B social media marketing is essential

Chris AbrahamGlen Gow wrote an important article over at Achieve Marketing Leadership titled Why waste your money on B2B Social Media? that I am going to excerpt and share here.

Like Glen, we at Abraham Harrison get some pushback when we pitch B2B PR agencies as well as corporations that do mostly B2B and channel sales. When I talk to them, I get the same kind of response I got when I was pitching them Content Management Systems and eCommerce solutions, “we’re not Amazon, we don’t need anything more than just brochure-ware — why would we need eCommerce.”

Well, now CMS and Ecommerce sites are the backbone of the supply chains. And, lo, the same is happening with social media. Glen Gow writes:

Businesses of all sizes are executing Twitter campaigns, creating business Facebook pages, producing corporate blogs and YouTube videos in the hopes of going 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 in the dust in an environment full of constant paradigm shifts that move at lightning speed.

Well said. And their response is, “are we jumping on the bandwagon ‘just because’ or does a social media, blogging, tweeting, and Facebooking strategy pay dividends? Well, yes they do, primarily for the reason why some of the smartest B2B businesses have been blogging forever:

  • Becoming industry experts
  • Sharing what they do in much longer-form
  • Becoming a more important part of organic search
  • Offering a sense of selfless and personal generosity
  • Building a cult of employee and brand personality
  • Offering an opportunity to expose process and quality
  • “Getting to know you, getting to know all about you”
  • Making a sale, any sale, requires seven-ten “touches”
  • In 2011, companies do their due-diligence via Google

And, of course, the same thing can be said about Facebook Pages, Twitter (and other real time web platforms), LinkedIn, YouTube, and other social media solutions, including customer service forums and message boards, real-time chats, and trouble-ticket support. And, if the Cluetrain Manifesto can chime in, people are already talking about your brand. More from Glen Gow:

Janet’s company may already have a social presence, whether she knows (or likes) it or not. Many employees regularly create haphazard and ad hoc postings about their company…not only LinkedIn, but also Facebook, Blogs, Twitter, and YouTube. Such uncontrolled, disparate postings can be a disadvantage and work at cross purposes to an integrated marketing plan. Far better to own your social media presence so it portrays a cohesive presence.

So, getting control of your search results, your Google results, your Twitter searches, and the like back — the first page of Google, Bing, and Yahoo! — is essential. But so is your audience — the B2B people — the procurement team, the intern that does the bidding of the C-Suite to put together a report as to who to use is for sure influenced by what folks find online — and generally on the first page of Google or posted recently on Facebook or Twitter (Google, Twitter, and Facebook only care about the last 30 seconds on the short end through the last 72 hours at the max).

How does this effect you? Well, let’s say your charcoal-suit-wearing sales monkey makes the sale by making calls on land lines, sends 4-color promotional materials via post, and then takes it to the final yard! Bravo! Almost there, soldier.

However, what happens when the procurement accountant does a final check? Will the Internet do well by you? Will that cursory search win or lose you the $20,000-$200,000-$20,000,000 contract?

Will a search on Facebook, Twitter, and Google come up with nothing? Or, even worse than nothing: only self-promotional contextual Google Ads? What are you hiding when you spend big bucks on AdWords ads but have nothing really coming up well on search?

Engaging broadly in Social Media in the form of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and corporate blogs is like catnip to search — especially in Google 2.0 which shamelessly prioritizes real time content (thanks to Twitter), videos (thanks to YouTube), and highly-textual content (thanks to Google’s blog-love).

That said, none of this can be done in a vacuum. For a long time there, the corporate web site and eCommerce site were the red-headed step-children of a company’s brand. It is essential for whatever social media solutions you choose are completely integrated into your brand management strategy. More from Glen Gow:

Best practices already exist for leveraging social media as part of an integrated marketing plan. No marketing element should be done in a vacuum, and from tradeshows to ad campaigns to thought leadership webinars, integration and expansion are the keys for a successful marketing impact. When used as a follow-on tool for another campaign, social media channels provide an excellent venue for broadening the impact of other marketing strategies and investments. And while not everything goes viral the way we might like, with a Tweet here, a Facebook posting there, you can dramatically increase your reach.

One thing Glen doesn’t get into is reputation management. Pouring your experience, talent, successes, promotions, products, services, processes, quality, client lists, testimonials, corporate history, and executives’ experience and bios in text on blogs, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, and on Twitter is an amazing inoculation in the off chance that something does go wrong, someone does make an attack at your good name — and it all goes sideways.

In terms of reputation management, it is much easier to both actively engage naysayers when in a crisis and need some online crisis management. And, even if you choose to not engage, you will have already “owned” the top three pages of Google so can better weather a news item, a personal vendetta, etc. Seriously, we at Abraham Harrison do that every day and it works!

Of course, if you’re not willing to procure good people — community managers, professional-quality tweeters, online analysts, and some time very day, across all of the time zones, you’re not going to get the full impact; however, don’t worry, any little bit of committed work towards 24/7 support, blogging, and hourly tweets is a step in the right direction.

The biggest shortcoming that I always see is starting all hot and heavy and then, within 6 months, losing steam and leaving behind a social media corporate ghost town. That’s the worst. If you’re going to do that, don’t even bother — just squat all the brand-specific social media logins you can and sit on them — don’t embarrass yourself. (Via Marketing Conversation)

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Chris Abraham is a partner in Socialmedia.biz. Contact Chris via email, follow him on Twitter and Google Plus or leave a comment below.

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2 thoughts on “B2B social media marketing is essential

  1. I agree 100% that “B2B social media marketing is essential.” However, most social media sites are more geared towards B2C marketing and are not ideal for B2B use.

    I like to share with you a B2B social networking website http://www.MyTradeZone.com. It's free for any business to sign up and create their company profile on MyTradeZone, list their products & services, request price quotes, post their updates, and follow other companies to network with businesses and generate leads.