Beware Conventional B2B Social Media Wisdom

February 8, 2016

Few might argue that B2B companies are getting better at utilizing social media. Some are actually experiencing decent results in terms of new leads and business opportunities.

However, a recent article on citing a somewhat older report from InsideView about the use of social media by B2B companies might make you think that B2B social media is a slam dunk.

While these reports, articles, and statistics can be helpful and are interesting to read, they can also cause heartburn for smaller B2B organizations that are struggling with social media to begin with.

For instance, the report stated that 90% of B2B companies use Facebook for lead generation. Really?

Obviously, the companies surveyed for the report only represent a sample of the total universe and times have changed. But, I think a majority of B2B marketers will probably tell you that Facebook does not provide the right context for their messages. Moreover, retargeting on the platform is an issue because B2B companies generally possess business email addresses for their prospects and people don’t often use their business emails for their Facebook accounts.

Of course, there are still opportunities for B2B brands on Facebook, but smaller organizations might have a tougher time finding a fit. In any event, if you are given to believe that you are among the minority of B2B brands not using Facebook, you could end up making some terrible and rash choices about how and where to spend your time on social media.

Further down in the same article, the author quotes concepts from a report and a Sirius Decisions study that support the need for social selling.

They go something like this:

“Your customers are already on social media”
“Your competition is already there, and if not, will be soon”
“Your employees and new hires expect it”
“70% of the buyers journey is complete before it gets to Sales”

While these statements are not necessarily untrue, you do have to use your own judgment and experience when deciding how and when to employ social media in your business.

It’s easy for us as marketers to assume that everyone is on social media. Many of us are active social media users. If not for any other reason than social media is part of our marketing toolkit and we have to be knowledgeable.

However, this is not the case for everyone. I work with customers, vendors, and colleagues on a daily basis who don’t have accounts on some of the most popular platforms for B2B like LinkedIn and Twitter. For those that do, many are not active enough for social media marketing to have any tangible impact when it comes to building a social relationship or driving revenue opportunities. And sorry, this group includes millennials too.

As for keeping parity with competition, be careful not to get caught up in what others are doing. They may not be doing it all that well.

Which platforms are your competitors participating in? Are your customers and prospects there too? Don’t assume you should start an account on a platform just because a competitor has one. And don’t jump on a platform because a few people in your company thought it might be a good idea.

Evaluate each platform on its own merits, fit for your brand, and your ability to deliver captivating and regular content to your target audience before spending your valuable time trying to establish a presence.

No one can deny that the buyers journey is changing. Buyers are increasingly relying on websites, social proof, and other content as ways of ascertaining information about solutions. But no matter how well we try to personalize an online experience or create virtual relationships, there is nothing that can replace the value of direct human interaction. And, there are just some questions and concerns that can’t be addressed in a non-personal or virtual format, particularly as they relate to a complex sale.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not inferring that B2B marketers should avoid or ignore social media as part of their strategy. The key is to keep from getting sidetracked by studies, quotes, statistics and trends that may or may not apply to your unique business situation.

To make the most of social media, you must:
• Carefully evaluate potential platforms for their relevance to your business
• Ensure you can fuel them properly via content marketing efforts
• Train and activate your wider team, especially Sales, so they can leverage social media to establish and nurture relationships

Without proper planning, social media can devour large chunks of your time while delivering few, if any, results. Don’t stop everything you’re doing to hop on the latest social media trend because you think a statistic someone quoted says you should. Make careful, informed decisions as you would before engaging in any other marketing tactic.

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