B2B Social Media Should Amplify Traditional Marketing, Not Replace It

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?

Comments

  1. says

    Hi Jeff,

    This is spot on. Social media can’t do it all. There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy in terms of marketing. We can consider social media as one of the most promising marketing tools. But it’s not the be all and end all strategy others think.

    Thanks,

    Judy

  2. says

    Jeff,

    You are absolutely right. Social media has to be integrated with the overall marketing strategy. Like you, we have seen some great examples of how companies can use social media to amplify their event marketing. IBM goes so far as to hold virtual events in conjunction with their physical events.

    ITSMA’s recent research with B2B buyers of complex technology solutions (>=$500M) revealed a bifurcated market. There are two types of executive buyers: traditional buyers and B2B Social Buyers. The defining characteristic of the Social Buyers is age. They are in the 30-39 year old age bracket. There are still plenty of executives 40+ years old that are buying complex technology solutions. Marketers had better not abandon them!

    Julie

  3. says

    It’s much like the introduction of radio and television earlier in this century. It gave the marketers of the time a more direct line to their consumers (all they had was print and F2F–like door-to-door salespeople–before that), but using their new “toys” didn’t replace what they were doing in the past. Well, perhaps it did sometimes, but moreover they had to learn what was the right mix to support their particular company, audience, market, business goals, etc.

    And, I bet, there were a bunch of excited people about these new marketing channels back then, too. But, the fundamentals of marketing and advertising never change–you have to do stuff that attracts people (excites the limbic system), then move to the more cerebral stuff, only after you’ve opened the “gate” via the emotional components of your audience’s brains.

    What I find most interesting in SM is that there is a mix of both, more intertwined than most media in the past. Tweets need to be more emotional, while still carrying a certain level of information, while longer form SM needs to have some emotion, but really needs to carry information.

  4. says

    Thanks for summing up the REAL Facts.
    A well designed marketing Strategy NEED to incorporate all aspects of venues available.
    But do you find many NOT using and studying the results to determine effectiveness?

  5. says

    Same applies for BtoC as well Jeffrey; social media marketing is a tool, a tactic. This requires strategy beyond just marketing, but overall business. No we cannot fall in the ‘the way we used to do things’ trap – especially if those ways no longer work – but then we shouldn’t be fixing things that aren’t broken.

    I’m not sure ‘amplification’ – just making it more or ‘louder’ – is enough though; social media in particular has the unique benefit of being able to connect businesses and people in ways traditional media cannot. So using SM the same as traditional media is a waste of its potential. Social media and traditional marketing should be integrated, to complement and enhance each other, make each one better in ways that utilize the strengths of each. FWIW.

  6. says

    Great post Jeff!
    Social media is not magic.
    I love it when people say, “Let’s try it, and see what happens.”
    What does that mean?
    Would you say to your spouse, “Let’s try marriage, and see what we think after a month or so.”
    If you get success with that, let me know :-)
    Thanks for sharing :D

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