SXSW: David Meerman Scott Riffs on B2B and ROI

David Meerman Scott is a marketing strategist, keynote speaker, seminar leader, and the author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR, an award-winning BusinessWeek bestseller published in 24 languages. He is also the author of the hit book World Wide Rave and three other books. His Web Ink Now blog is ranked by AdAge Power 150 as a top worldwide marketing blog.

I talked to David at SXSW in Austin, Texas and he shared his thoughts with me on topics that he has spoken about before. David has strong views that may seem contrarian at first, but upon reflection, you realize that he presents clarity of situations that others just don’t see.

Is there any difference between B2B and B2C company? Not according to David. You are still selling to people.

And what about the ROI of social media? David views social media as a new form of communication, similar to a telephone or a computer. You don’t measure the ROI of those anymore. Watch the video to hear him say it and let us know if you agree with him or disagree in the comments below.


  1. says

    Thanks Jeff. DMS is so clear in his thinking about social media, especially his views of it as a essential communications medium. It really begs the question why are business owners and execs even asking about ROI for investing people and time in this space? I guess people were suspicious of PC’s and cell phones at first, weren’t they?

  2. says

    Thanks for the post Jeff. David Meerman Scott’s answers are so effortless and clear. It makes social media sound like a ‘no brainer’. I do see the value for both B2C and B2B, to say the least. As a marketer who has spent several years in the B2B space, I also understand that while it’s true people just do business with people, there is still the perception factor. The perception can create a different bias for a purchase, and how the businesses (people) might engage with each other. But, I completely agree that B2Bs should not think that social media is not for them. I think social media can change how B2Bs engage and create a different kind of business relationship…all for the better!

  3. says

    John: Thanks for the comment. He really does present a different view of social media, which is counter to the corporate mindset. In any new medium, it is critical to gather a variety of viewpoints and decide for yourself what works.

    Angela: Thanks for your comments as well. Once we view B2B recommenders and purchasers as people rather than businesses, it is easy to understand why we want to engage with them.

  4. Courtney says

    David made some great points about businesses being made up of people. That is why Angela is so right about B2B needing to be on social media. It is a place to engage people not companies. The companies need to learn to act like a person online and be part of the conversation.

    However, most B2B’s are more worried about generating leads and what medium works the best. Since budgets are tight these companies feel like they don’t have time to experiment with social media. But what if you could show that social media creates more leads from the right stakeholders? I know White Horse is about to do a webinar on how B2B can use social media for lead generation and how it is more effective if done correctly.

    If you are interested in the webinar feel free to sign up here:

    That was a great interview and I will probably be showing it to clients as incentive for using social media that is if you don’t mind.

  5. says

    Always interesting to hear people’s thoughts about this. I guess it kind of depends on how you define social media. Is it just communication tools or is it content, programs and what you do with it? There are costs to each of these. If you’re just talking about social media as a communication tool, then maybe roi is a moot point. But if you have specific programs and business processes integrated with social media don’t you have to think about your return on investment? Or maybe at least do a cost-risk-benefits analysis.

    Regarding the phone/blackberry aspect. If a business could get away with never answering phones, they would save a lot of money. But most can’t get away with it. They’d lose customers and business. Maybe at some point and for some businesses, using social media tools for communication is like using a phone or computer. It’s a no brainer. But I think if we’re talking about specific programs where decisions have to be made to fund/not fund something relating to improving business/reducing costs/driving leads through social media (maybe it’s a community or support staff on Twitter, for example) then you have to think about ROI. Thoughts?

  6. says


    Thanks for your comments. David’s ROI rant is definitely at the higher level of using social media or not. There are new ways to communicate with customers, partners, vendors and employees, and companies need to begin embracing them. As you say, if you are trying to determine whether to launch a specific campaign or program, which happens to use social media, yes, you need to understand the return on investment of that program.

  7. says

    Thanks Jeffrey for putting it in the right basket. I believe all social media channels offer different set of metrics. Its better to start from the objectives of program, followed by expectation from a particular social media channel and then selecting the appropriate metrics.

    Moreover, I think I critical expect that differentiate the B2B Campaign is the involvement of multiple people in the buying process. That impacts the expectations one should have from Social Media. I think if we can set the right expectations, B2B Businesses will be able to adopt it comfortably and will be able to get the right value in the long time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *