I’ve got a secret to share and I just have to get it off my chest! For most of my career, I have been in tech-related sales and marketing roles where communication activities filled up most hours of most days through the years.
Yet for a long time, I must admit, I just didn’t see the connection between B2B social media and real business value. I thought “social” was great for my kids, consumer brands and people with lots of time on their hands.
So why the delay in jumping on the bandwagon? It wasn’t because I’m shy about technology. In fact, I’m a geek when it comes down to it and it’s as much a personal passion as anything else. Some may argue the point, but I consider myself reasonably intelligent and open-minded – after all, I eventually did see the light – right? In hindsight, I think I had the same reservations of many others in the B2B world – “It’s not easy and it seems fluffy and vague.”
Social media can feel like a vortex that’s impossible to navigate and understand at first. Maybe if I had the right help early on, I would have been a convert years sooner. Indeed, it takes constant work and it’s not cheap. But, neither is advertising or any other important part of your marketing mix. To make it work, you also need to deal with some fundamental things that may seem counter-intuitive in traditional B2B marketing. Specifically, It takes a long time to build momentum and ROI – so you have to be committed for the long-haul, you have to be responsively engaged, and you have to operate in the spirit of giving without expectation.
Now that I’ve finally “arrived,” I still see a surprising number of B2B business owners and executives continuing to sit on the fence or doing the bare minimum with social media. For all those stubbornly holding out as I once did, I’m sure you have asked yourselves these questions at some point: will social media help grow my business?; is it here to stay?; are my competitors using it to steal my customers and prospects? The resounding answer is YES, YES, and YES!
What I want to do now is share a few things that have impacted me during the journey I’ve taken so far. I’m not trying to hard-sell here, but I thought this would be relevant coming from someone who resisted for quite some time.
Unacceptable, Lame and Over-Used Excuses!
Assuming the CRM “house” is in order, no salesperson worth the title should have a reason to make any of the following claims. If they are, I suspect it’s part of a larger issue. As you will see, I’m being a bit playful with this. But I know sales managers continue to get these excuses because I occasionally still hear them in my travels.
Social media for business absolutely works if done well! I’m not going to quote the thousands of statistics about how it has changed buying and selling. But, here’s some great data from HubSpot. Just Google “B2B social media statistics,” or better yet, invest 10 minutes on any social media network and you will find an avalanche of supporting data and use-cases about this new reality of marketing.
- How does it work exactly? It helps strengthen bonds with your customers. It offers real and tangible benefits for other areas of your business such as Customer Service, Product Development, and Human Resources. And, it will help you create awareness and relationships with a potentially massive and relevant target audience. These virtual introductions will eventually produce leads, opportunities, and closed deals.
- At the heart of it, social media is really about content. For a business, there are invaluable learning opportunities in the areas of industry and market research, competitive analysis, and sourcing potential suppliers or solutions that can help significantly improve your operation. The point is, with social media you have the aggregation of huge amounts of highly valuable content at your fingertips.
- On a more personal note, I like the connectedness of it all. It’s incredibly fluid and exciting and it’s helped me realize how big (and small) the world really is. As I scan through the unending sea of blogs, videos, podcasts and other content, I always pick up something new I didn’t know before. I’ve also come to appreciate the engagement aspect and while there’s always the odd bad apple, the vast majority of people I’ve met in this “world beyond the keyboard” have been interesting, kind and helpful.
Although now a devout practitioner and evangelist for B2B social media and digital marketing in general, I’m still a novice and perpetual student, so don’t look for my best-selling book anytime soon. I’m sure like many others, I wish I had embraced social media for business from the very beginning – but, it wasn’t too late for me and if you haven’t started yet, it’s certainly not too late for you!
I hope you have enjoyed this article and would love to hear your thoughts about social media in B2B and any experiences you can share. Please follow us on your favorite social feed and Contact us if we can help in any way.