Effectiveness of Social Media Marketing for B2B – The Debate Rages On

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Popularity is a strange thing – whether it is a high visibility brand, a car, a pop star – as the popularity charts go up the numbers on the opposite side start to grow too. It’s true, die-hard fans will always have a community that looks down on them (their taste).

Same is the case with Social Media Marketing (SMM). You can love it, hate it, but you can’t ignore it. And so it continues to be a topic of debate in the world of business. How effective really is it? Is it only the racehorse for the consumer market or can B2B marketers gain significant ROI from social media marketing?

I recently read a study on B2B social marketing strategies that claims SMM really works for B2B. One case study is specifically about lead generation by a workplace solutions company called Regus. I watched the viral video this company used and I agree; great video! Was it the reason the company’s leads, sales and revenue increased?

I don’t think so. As they say in the study itself, this was an integrated campaign. The video was one of other strategies which included a sweepstakes, creating a community for professionals, in person events, etc. It was a good tool to nurture inquiries received from an in person event. But at the heart of this campaign was a solid marketing plan, creativity, and an innovative use of social media in the overall effort to generate leads.

From what we are seeing and hearing, I am increasingly of the opinion that:

  • Social media is and can become a very useful tool in your integrated B2B marketing toolkit.
  • As a B2B marketer, your overall demand generation strategy must have critical milestones and objectives; and some of these can be delivered through the efficient integration of social technologies.
  • You cannot, however, rely on social media marketing to work independently.

Tech companies swear by Twitter and spend time and effort on several 140-characters Tweets a day. LinkedIn is being touted as a great channel for B2B social networking and I’m sure it is. It’s easy to set up a company Facebook page and generate thousands of “Likes”. But…do you have a process to identify hot prospects and true leads from hand-raisers? Yes, of course you can lure the hungry to your hot dog cart, but do you have the “secret sauce” to draw out the “connoisseurs” who come back, frequently, and bring their best friends?

What are your thoughts? Is your B2B organization testing social media waters or have you found measurable results and ROI? Leave me a comment.

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