Some B2B marketers approach social media with shiny object syndrome and think it will solve all their company problems if they can only replace all their traditional marketing with social media marketing. That is a terrible idea. While I don’t subscribe to the marketing school of thought that encourages you to keep doing the things that you have always done because they have always worked in the past, I also don’t believe that you should throw out everything you are doing for the sake of change.
Evaluate Existing Marketing
Change is good, but it need to be approached in a systematic and data-supported way. Start by reviewing all your current marketing tactics and evaluating their effectiveness. If you are unable to determine how a particular marketing tactic supports your business goals, you have two choices. Do the best you can to estimate its effectiveness, or jettison it from the mix. I don’t want to short change a discussion about larger business goals, but before you can add social media to the mix, you must know what you are trying to accomplish, from a marketing perspective and a larger business perspective. This is key to evaluating your tactics.
Adding Social Media to the Mix
Once you have an understanding of what works in your traditional marketing, you can begin to evaluate social media’s effectiveness at meeting those business objectives. This is where a lot of B2B marketers go wrong. How many times have you (or I) heard the phrase “dipping your toe in the water” of social media? This toe-dipping is not going to yield any measurable results unless you have a measurable goal of what you are trying to do. Since many social media efforts require a long term commitment to get any real traction, interim goals and milestones are required. If you are trying to drive leads and sales, review those early efforts in that light. If you are seeking to improve customer support or reduce call volume, put some numbers to these efforts to understand if the time required offsets the reduction in call volume.
Amplification of Traditional Marketing
Another way to start with social media for your B2B company is connect these efforts to your traditional marketing. What can you do in social media to support existing offline efforts? According to recent survey by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), nearly 40% of B2B marketers’ budgets in 2011 were spent on trade shows. This is a huge portion of a budget, and in many cases the largest single category of spend. Use social media to support these types of activities. Create a social media campaign that kicks off several months before the trade show and focus your efforts on supporting the show. What kind of events are planned around your booth, or afterwards? Are any of your executives speaking? Can you tease product introductions? Is there something that customers and prospects will learn at the show that will help them run their business? Build a community around the ideas that you can pay off at the event, and set some measurable goals to determine your success.
What are your thoughts about how social media can enhance or amplify your marketing efforts for your B2B company?