Nearly all B2B marketers (93%) are engaged in social media marketing today, but 75% do not measure the ROI of these programs, according to a survey by B2B Magazine. Surprising? Not really. Most B2B companies get that social has become part of the marketing recipe, but they are skipping over key ingredients. They rush in expecting to whip up a tasty, moist chocolate cake but end up flustered with their flat, dry mess.
An ill-defined strategy is often to blame. I really loved Olivier Blanchard’s recent post on the difference between social marketing and social media, which I think gets to the heart of this issue. The two terms are often used interchangeably, but he argues there are very distinct definitions for each. Businesses that thrive in social media typically have a very customer-centric approach to business inherent in their culture. They empower people to connect and engage with other people.
Most B2B companies I know aren’t really using that approach. Instead, most of them fall into the social marketing camp, which focuses more on creating buzz than a dialogue. Does that make their social efforts a failure or un-strategic? Not necessarily – but defining an objective is critical, so that expectations follow suit. A logo-branded Twitter account that primarily spits out company news can’t expect to use that as a means of building meaningful relationships.
We had the privilege of having marketing strategist Mark Schaefer in our NY office last week. He raised a few points that I think are quite relevant to this discussion:
- To develop a truly successful social platform – regardless of the goal – companies must have a higher purpose than selling the brand
- There are so many different organizational goals within a company that marketing/social efforts can support. The challenge is to having the discipline to focus and measure.
- Content is key. B2B brands that stand out from the crowd online tend to have content that is entertaining or focuses on being of service to their audience. One great way for companies to create more customer-centric content: walk down the hall to customer service or the sales team and discuss the questions they are being asked.
It’s very easy to make all of this social stuff a complicated mess, especially when dealing with a large global organization. It becomes much easier when there is an established objective and common goals that everyone is working toward vs. spreading yourself thin to achieve unrealistic results.
What would you add?
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