Last week I wrote a post about how to know if customer service reps at a B2B company are ready for social media. I want to continue that idea and start to understand social media adoption or acceptance in other functions of the business.
Many readers are marketing professionals who started using social media profiles on their own to learn how it applies to their company. There is usually one strong advocate for social media (dear reader) in a marketing department, maybe even an evangelist. Everyone in marketing should know by now that social media is no longer a fad and can drive business, but there is a large education gap. It is your job as the evangelist to determine what that education gap is. Help others in the organization get more out of their social profiles on Twitter and LinkedIn. Recommend some Facebook Pages to follow. Share your favorite SocialMediaB2B articles with them. That’s why there’s an email share button at the bottom of every post.
PR / Corporate Communications
PR professionals have been trained to control the company message. That is just not possible anymore. PR pros who are ready for social media have learned that they can take their skills and apply them in new ways. Creating content requires a commitment of resources, and as much of it is written, that task can be managed by a PR team who is used to cranking out releases. They may need to lighten up on some of the approval processes, though. Relationship building skills also translate to reaching out to online influencers, but the PR pros need to understand that an email press release to bloggers doesn’t build a relationship. Asking the intern to send individual emails doesn’t do it either.
Many sale people are willing to accept social media ideas, but they are concerned that it will take too much time. Tools and workflows that bring social conversations into their normal routine or CRM systems will help them see the value of having more context for communicating with customers and prospectives. Sales people are results-oriented and need to be shown successes of their efforts. This means it is important to track sources of everything, so social media approaches can get the proper credit for driving business. Talk to other companies who are doing this, and see if you can connect your sales manager with their sales manager.
Every executive has smart phone. They understand the change that mobile is bringing to B2B companies. This makes it easier to sell the idea of using social media to drive business as another coming change. People who have risen to this level in an organization understand networking, relationships and connections, which are parts of social media. They also want to see results. Intellectually they are ready to see social media succeed. And emotionally, they want the same thing. “My B2B company is doing a fantastic job using social media,” are words that executives want to utter. But there is a fear that it will fail. The best way to overcome the fear is to set up a pilot project with regular updates to an executive contact. Set realistic goals that can be met, but know that it can take some time. These are things that should run parallel to other communications efforts.
The legal department will never really be ready for social media at a large B2B company. One way to help them understand what social media can do, and its place in a corporate communications environment is to point to other large companies who are using social media. If more than three-quarters of the Fortune Global 100 are using social media, there are ways legal departments have become comfortable with the various aspects of the approach. Another thing to try is to find other attorneys who advise companies on social media, or even someone from a corporate legal department willing to speak to your company’s attorneys. Search for legal blogs and attorneys speaking at conferences to find those adept at social media.
Many traditional ad agencies are used to campaign-driven plans based around big ideas. While big ideas have a place in social media, it is much more about the setting processes in place that will help a company succeed over the long term. Every tweet and every Facebook update does not need to be carefully wordsmithed, but they do need to have an appropriate tone and be part of the larger story. Look to ad agency partners to leverage their strengths like strategy, branding and design. Many agencies are still catching up with the execution of social media, and make sure their approach matches yours.
What are your biggest challenges with other functions’ social media acceptance or adoption in your B2B organization?