On the flip side, if you are a social believer, you needn’t look any further than the period following Facebook’s IPO and its founder becoming one of the richest people on the planet to understand the considerable challenges in building a viable social media business model.
40% of B2B buyers say LinkedIn, yes it is a social media, is important when researching technology purchases
The appeal of social networking is the opportunity for community—to build rich (albeit virtual) relationships online. To some people, making money off of relationships necessitates a degree of intrusion; asking for access to users’ wallets or time. This flies in the face of the two greatest things that social media users value: community and control. I would also state that if your sales force is developing relationships in “real life” solely for the intention of monetizing those relationships—well, you’ve got bigger problems, and I don’t want to hang around your sales staff, ever. What’s the difference between online or “real life” hidden agendas, sales manipulation and just being a bad person? None.
Everyone has an opinion about the value of social media, particularly in the B2C realm. But for B2B practitioners, good social media advice is more complex. There are many more nuances involved in terms of audience (multiple layers of decision-makers), complexity of product/services and sales cycle (a B2B purchase usually has a longer gestation period). Regardless of context, there are more ways to fail at social media than succeed. There’s much risk in the wrong approach.
But there’s more risk in doing nothing. The existence of trade shows to some extent is driven by the same idea. You probably still attend some major show that never has yielded any results simply because, “We have to be there or everyone will wonder why we are not.” If that works for you, then apply the same thinking to social media. If you are beyond that thinking, you still need to get in the social game.
B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads than those that don’t.
Why include social media in your B2B marketing efforts? Because you don’t really have a choice.
In a world of bankrupt newspaper and trade magazine circulations, social networking is the new community. The willing participants who drive social networking place a premium on not those with the loudest voices, but the most interesting insights. Your customers and prospects (and competitors) are out there, dialoguing online. They might not necessarily be communicating on Facebook, but they most certainly are swapping ideas and opinions on blogs, LinkedIn and Twitter. They are talking about your products and services on their terms (even if they don’t immediately realize that it’s “you” they’re talking about).
Still not convinced? Try this. HubSpot, in its Inbound Marketing University curriculum, shares a powerful fact: 100% of companies whose employees publish multiple blog posts a day directly attribute sales to that effort. 100%.
Decide today to participate if only by investigating some of the 800+ social networks. Find one that fits your niche…investigate. Start today.
Image by Jason Howie