The increasing use of social media platforms as part of the business to business buying process has been touted in a number of surveys in recent weeks. While this seems like a “duh” statement to some, it’s surprising how many experienced business people I talk to that still don’t have a LinkedIn profile or whose companies ignore (or, worse, discourage employees from using) social media. Social media isn’t just a marketing or recruiting thing anymore…it’s a part of doing business. But that statement won’t stop the skeptics from being skeptics. For those of you battling doubters in the B2B space, here is some ammunition:
- The Skeptic Statement: “Why bother with social media – it isn’t an activity that impacts the bottom line.” MarketingProfs recently featured a study from Hinge Marketing, which polled 500 professional services firms on their use of social media and how high-growth firms differed from their peers. It found that high-growth professional services firms place more emphasis on blogging, SEO, and social networking—and generate a higher proportion of their business leads via online sources—than do their peers.
Data is key to countering skeptics. If you’re not testing and measuring the impact of social media activity in a meaningful way that ties to a larger strategic plan, it’s time to start. Not sure where to begin? There is an excellent step-by-step plan that you can follow here from Search Engine Land.
- The Skeptic Statement: “Our buyers aren’t using social media to research our firm. If they want information about us, they go to our web site.” The 2012 Demand Gen Report B2B Buyer Survey polled 170+ B2B buyers on how they research their purchases. Nearly all B2B buyers (94%) view multiple pieces of content from the vendor they ultimately select. Blogs and LinkedIn content are by far the most influential social media sources. More than half (53%) use social media to follow group discussion threads related to their vendor research. About one-quarter connect directly with potential solution providers over social media.
An informative, content-rich web site is central to most organizations’ digital strategies, but no longer can it serve as the only medium for information about your company. It’s not about being everywhere; it’s about conducting a smart listening program and engaging and sharing in the forums that matter most to your customers. If you’re not sure what your buyers are up to, check out this post from @BarbraGago about the 7 ways to research your buyers.
And for those skeptics that still believe their business does better ignoring social media, I invite you to read this recent post by Mark Schaefer, which highlights remarks by Dave Coplin, Chief Visioning Officer at Microsoft, on the future of search, privacy and social media:
“Technology will eventually disappear into the background. Screens will disappear. Social TV will connect all the screens but that is just the beginning. Every single flat surface will provide contextual information. In a few years, Minority Report will be nostalgic. Information will not be plastic and glass. Every surface will be interactive, including your skin. Your arms and fingers will be the input devices.”
Think about how quickly the business world is changing now as a result of technological developments. If you’re averse to experimenting with new ways to market and connect to customers now, where will you be 10 years from now?
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