I just read in this news article that Pope Benedict XVI will be relaying his “pearls of wisdom” about the Catholic faith using Twitter! For what is one of the most powerful institutions in the world, I certainly see this as a leap of faith for the Vatican. So come December 12, the Tweets, each one approved by the Pope himself, will be sent out simultaneously in multiple languages. The idea is that if the masses have stopped coming to Church regularly, the Vatican will take the teachings of the Church to them. I think that is very progressive thinking; albeit required to be done with a good measure of caution and constant monitoring. Not to mention the effort that will go into the process of regularly posting on Twitter and making sure it is all within sanction.
For a community of faith, for an institution of power, for practitioners of a worldwide religion, social media has tremendous benefits. In our world of business too, the benefits of social media marketing are many; when done the right way.
The damages of a world turned upside down by social media, however, can have far-reaching consequences for the organizations and brands that stand on their heads with feet in the air. And then you have folks declare and lament that “social media is so freaking hard“! Of course, it is. When you throw caution to the wind, when you forget everything you have known to work for so long, when you practice insanity by repeatedly doing the same things and expecting different results, something’s going to churn and grind and spew out trouble.
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Social Media Is New, It’s Different, It’s Exciting —But The Ground Rules of B2B Marketing Have Not Changed
Why is social media so tough? Think about traditional marketing methodology; there is a whole history behind it. You learn the ABCs of marketing, you learn through trial and error, you learn the do’s and don’ts, you document the successes and failures and you tweak your marketing strategy for greater effectiveness. Traditional marketing is a well-honed discipline that has a lot of pure cult data.
With the emergence of social media and its plethora of “experts”, common sense marketing has, for the most part, been given the boot. The so-called social media gurus have reversed tried and true processes and turned everything upside down. We have people involved in social media that have no background in marketing. So as a result, the issue and challenge in the B2B marketplace is that of organizations being confused because they do not know what is right or wrong, what works or doesn’t work. In my honest opinion, it’s time for marketing to take over B2B social media. Already, things are starting to get out of hand.
We have known for a long time that while all marketing ultimately aims to increase sales, reaching that goal does not always have to involve selling. In the case of social media, this is even more true. As recently as September 2011, B2B Magazine reported on a poll that showed 35% of search and social marketers said driving sales was their number one social media goal.
This compels me to ask the question, what really is the point of social media? If you consider the fact that most social media sites do not sell anything directly, yet have an incredible number of users, advertisers and content marketers, one can safely say that selling is not the point of social media. Is marketing the point of social media then? Yes, for sure; but the kind of marketing that
- builds long-lasting relationships
- encourages engagement
- establishes trust
- boosts credibility
B2B social engagement as it stands today is still missing the biggest component, i.e. a conversion engine; but let us not confuse social activities with results. As we all know, there is “good busy” and “bad busy” or “working hard” and “working smart”. As it stands right now, in the B2B world we are still struggling with a myopic view of what social should deliver. One quick look at who owns the responsibility for social in an organization and the associated lack of marketing depth and knowledge explains what has led to our current situation.
Social media is not just a tactic – it needs seasoned, experienced marketers to incorporate social media INTO the overall, integrated marketing strategy. At the same time, it also requires a good understanding of how your target audience behaves and communicates on social media channels. In the old days, we used to observe and absorb customer behavior in our store or on the shop floor. Today, we do this on social media networks, company websites, blogs, mobile apps, and other digital platforms. Only the medium has changed; the ground rules for marketing are still the same. Let’s not forget this fundamental truth.
What are your thoughts and experiences with social media marketing in the B2B context? Let’s talk about it on my blog. You can also email or call me, Louis Foong, at (905) 709-3827.
Photo used under licence by Shutterstock.