Too Many B2B Social Media Objections Got You Down?

As the holidays are on the horizon and the year is winding down, I wanted to put on my curmudgeon hat for a few minutes and share some of the things that drive me crazy about B2B social media. Let me start by saying I have been thinking about, writing about and doing social media for B2B companies for a few years, so some of this might be pent up frustration at the slow adoption curve.

But it also may be that I get tired of saying the same things over and over again. Yes, I realize marketers at B2B companies explore social media every day, but it’s the same mis-perceptions that get me.

Let’s look at a few of these that keep coming up.

Social Media is not for B2B

This is always the first objection that B2B marketers always talk about when they are exploring social media. Their thoughts are driven by the high profile campaigns of big consumer brands like Coca-Cola with 55 million fans. They think that they will never get that number of fans, and that is true. They also say that their customers and prospects are not using social media. That is not true. Their customers and prospects are using social media, but they might not currently be using social media to talk about your company or connecting to you. Even if you don’t do anything about it, they will be looking to reach out to you via social media. It could be directly or indirectly, but your presence, or lack of one, influences what your customers and prospect think of you.

Did you know that 60% of the buying cycle is over before a prospect even contacts you? One of the key ways they learn about your company, products and services is through social media.

Social Media can’t drive leads

This is true if you let it happen. The first step is to create a blog and start creating awesome content. Many marketers do get this far, but stop. The ones that don’t, wonder if blogs are still relevant. All the big companies are focusing on Facebook. But they are not trying to drive leads. B2B companies looking to drive leads publish regularly on their company blog and send traffic from their Facebook pages to their blog posts. But it doesn’t stop there. Blog posts need calls to action. Your web analytics probably tell you that most people read one blog article and leave. They don’t visit other parts of your site from the blog. The best way to capture them as a lead is to give them an offer at the end of the blog post. Consider an ebook on a related topic. What about a webinar or a free consultation?

Yes, generating all this content can be challenging for some B2B companies, but if you want to generate leads through social media you need to dedicate the resources to a content program and stop doing things that are not driving leads.

What should I measure in Social Media?

Too many B2B marketers fall down on the job when it comes to measuring social media. Many of them start by measuring followers, fans and likes. If this is all you are reporting on, and not the quality of their interaction, save yourself time and trouble and buy followers and fans. It is very cheap to find firms that will load up your account with bots. If your goal is to grow your social media profiles, this is simple. Pay a little bit of money and get lots of followers. But no one will share your posts, click on links or engage with you in any manner. These accounts are not your audience, if they are even real. Using Twitter promoted accounts and other social platform advertising is different, because those are targeted to your potential audience.

But back to the orignal question, what to measure. A social media effort needs to have goals that align to business objectives. Most businesses want to grow their sales, so if you are using social media for lead generation, that’s what you need to measure. If you are starting from scratch, you can start by looking at effectiveness of your content. These are things like page views and shares, but you want to make sure you a moving towards measuring leads and closed sales as they increase. No matter what you are measuring, the point is to be able to understand what is working, improve what you can and stop doing the things that are not working. Without the analysis, these are just numbers on a report.

Are there common objections that you get tired of hearing or any of the same conversations that you keep having with people in your B2B company? How do deal with those questions?

Photo Credit: Flickr

Comments

  1. says

    In my circle, B2B social media is definitely going through a period of lowered expectations. A lot of this is due to the points you mention – comparisons to the big companies with huge budgets and tons of followers; with little thought beyond follower counts as the defining metric of success. But some of it is due to people starting to see things in a business sense through the fuzzy fog of early social media hype. With the realization (and sunk budgets) that social media for B2B is not plug-and-play-and-they-will-come-smiling-and-engaged, but rather it is internet and mobile enabled means to serve and communicate with customers and prospects, the discussions are now often “different” around social media. Different in the manner you address – what are our business objectives? What is the realistic investment needed in time and people? Is there really measurable ROI vs. other channels? How will we know?

    To me, this latter shift in looking at social media is a very good thing. Wish everyone started this way before the just pay some self-proclaimed expert to create a FaceBook page wave washed over sensible strategy sessions.

    I’m pretty sure a lot of companies are now in a “fooled me once” posture, and assume social media was/is all hype and are resistant to trying again…not because it is hype, but because so many went a little insane the first go-round thinking social was an easy, magic bullet to collecting raving fans.

  2. says

    It’s like we forget that we’re dealing with people. Relationship (trust) is always key when making a decision. Why would this be any less true when the decision maker represents a business?

    Keep fighting the good fight Jeff. When you say the same thing over and over, calmly, people eventually hear.

  3. says

    I’ve found that a surprisingly high number of B2B leaders simply aren’t even think of social media as relevant at all to winning new business. They don’t so much have objections, as they aren’t even aware in the first place.

    Maybe this is just a more extreme version of the “Social Media is not for B2B” objection?

  4. says

    Jeff,

    thanks for this article!
    I am experiencing exactly the same thing in Germany with many conservative B2B SMEs.
    Intersting enough, after a bit of training, most of those businesses are really excited about using Social Media and start straight away.
    Even if companies do not look at generating leads, Social Media often is a great channel for employer branding, innovation management or customer support.
    I firmly believe that Social Media will be a normal channel just as Internet in a few years – also for B2B companies!
    Here is an German article by me on Social Media in B2B businesses – which might be interesting for some German speaking readers: http://bit.ly/YDKvje .
    Keep up the great work, Jeff!

  5. says

    There are many other objections out there! We should try to make people understand the importance and power of social media. A business should be committed to delivering the best possible experience and service to its customers. Yes, actively using social media platforms may well give people the opportunity to tell you about a less than flattering issue.

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