Time To Shift B2B Social Media Marketing Focus From The "Media" To The "Social"

As marketers, we think of ourselves as social. So why is it that almost 50% of B2B marketers surveyed say that they primarily use social media as just another channel to push messages to their target market?

And those are the ones who are attempting to use social media for demand generation. There are still many who are not. One marketer I talked with recently believes that social media is only useful for marketing to consumers and the gimmicks that B2C marketers use would never work for B2B. To some extent that's true, but B2B and B2C marketing are both about people-to-people communications and eliciting emotional responses, which social is perfect for doing.

I was giving a presentation to a marketing team a few weeks ago, and one of the senior folks in the room said that his buyers are too old, too senior, and too busy to be on Facebook. But we were able to show him that his demographic of buyers does use social media when learning about solutions the company sells. Forrester's B2B Social Technographics data shows that business decision-makers use social media for business purposes, and when it comes to creating content and sharing opinions, they do it more for business than personal reasons.

Social media can be harnessed for generating demand, but you have to recognize how it's different from your other channels and use it differently. 

  • Social media is about relationships, so it requires you to engage in two-way conversations and participate consistently.
  • Social media is real time, so you need to be monitoring the conversations and taking action on them in real time.
  • Social media enhances and amplifies other channels, so it cannot be used in a silo.

Companies with advanced social media strategies engage people in conversations that infuse insights into all parts of the company, from product development to marketing, sales, and customer service. At Forrester's Marketing Leadership Forum on April 18-19 in Los Angeles, I'll be speaking specifically about how companies can use social media to drive demand, by being more systematic and building a social marketing engine.

Taking a more systematic approach means building a social marketing engine that produces valuable social interactions with anyone interested in your problem space and industry, whether they are customers, prospects, industry influencers, regulators, or regular citizens. To generate demand from these conversations, you want the engine to identify those people who are potential buyers in the discover phase of their customer life cycle so that you have already started a relationship with them and created brand preference when they enter the explore phase. How does the engine work?

  • Like a car engine, a social marketing engine needs fuel, which is your social content, full of fresh insights and provocative ideas on your buyers' problems. 
  • To keep the cylinders firing, you need to listen and respond to what people are saying, get them to connect with you and your social content, encourage them to spread the word, and get prospects to raise their hand when they have an interest in your offerings.
  • Each of these activities combines to build social profiles of the people you are engaging over time.
  • The output of the social marketing engine is prospective buyers who enter your marketing and sales funnel.

B2B marketers who take a more systematic approach have a huge opportunity to cast a wider net than ever and use the fact that people are connected to the things and people they care about to reach people, draw them in, and build brand preference early in the buying cycle. But to do it, you have to be more systematic.

Comments

Cool post. In as much as

Cool post. In as much as social media and search marketing is a regulated industry, hospitals should not hesitate to engage online for as long as they understand the rules of engaging online.

Marketing and social media

Social Media is quite helpful for promoting your business and we should adopt this new technique to get benefits!

Amen

Jeff, great post and I could not agree with you more. I work for an agency that uses social media for the content promotion of our clients looking to sell B2B & B2G. Clients are pleasantly surprised to see their target audience online and engaged to content. They are excited to see that there are ways to connect with their target audience online to not just create a relationship, but ultimately cultivate the relationship to turn them into a prospect or lead as well.

Examples

Eric, thanls for your thoughts. Let me know if you have any good client examples we can use in the report and presentations.

I think social media can help

I think social media can help so much to clients.But it need proper use.

Great article....much needed info!

Very informative article. We all need to stay on top of the latest trends from social media experts. I appreciate your keeping up with the latest and sharing it. It helps us make our blogging and social media presence more effective, so we too can continue to provide useful content to our readers. Keep it coming!
Thanks….the Market One team!

Jeff, I agree that the

Jeff,

I agree that the supposed disconnect between B2C and B2B marketing on social media isn't as wide as many at first posit.

To be in a strong B2B position requires being just as personable as in B2C. This can mean being more casual in your interactions that leaders have been accustomed to seeing in written form (but in which interactions they'd otherwise excel and relax into when in conversation form, can be a bit alien to see vital business informality in written form though).

Content needs to be exciting and interesting, just as in B2C marketing, but I'd say, with more limited time and a greater emphasis on the purpose, content shared socially needs to focus more on being more informative as opposed to pure entertainment. The magic blend of two is still the holy grail.

Excellent insights- thanks for sharing Jeff!

Luke W
Community Manager
http://www.onedesk.com

Social recruiting for staffing agencies

Great post, Jeff, and I love your "engine" metaphor for social media. And your three points (relationships, real-time, not stand-alone) are so often overlooked by those who want the get-rich-quick scheme for expanding their social media footprint.

We work with staffing agencies and frequently run into the same objections from "old school" recruiters who are reluctant to embrace social media. "I'm too old for this." "It's too late to be learning something new." "A waste of time; besides, I'm too busy working the phones." Many who are starting to use social media are retweeting out job openings, blasting them constantly like social media is a job board, and then wondering why no one is paying attention to them. I'm frequently asked what the secret is to getting and keeping more followers, as if there's some magic trick to add hundreds of connections a day. I tell them the same thing: you need content. You need to listen and have conversations, not just broadcast. You need to do the same thing you do every day as a recruiter -- make personal connections, get referrals and recommendations, and expand your network one person at a time.

Social recruiting

Jeff, great point, social marketing and social recruiting are so similar.

Your blog gives a space to

Your blog gives a space to the social media marketing as how it is important now a days in B2B marketing and easiest way to connect with our customer and also with other people,also this is todays need of the business, which shows in your article.

From the blog it is clear

From the blog it is clear that now the business are moving from tradition media marketing to social marketing, as in social marketing connection with the people is direct and also a relation is created which is important for the marketer. Today it is the need to create a marketing network on the social media as much of the people are using social sites to get connected with friends,relatives , so this is the media which gives a better results in the future.