Impact of Social Media and Blogging on B2B Vendor Selection


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—Higher Quality will Create a Bigger Impact

We have been talking about how the B2B buyer is changing—constantly full of surprises, increasingly unpredictable and incredibly savvy. Needless to say, these changes have brought a whole new dimension to the already complex B2B sales cycle. The process of B2B vendor selection which traditionally was based on performance indicators of service, delivery, quality and price is now based on all of these, plus evolving factors such as just-in-time communication, process improvement and efficiency, enhanced supply chain management, etc. Where in all this complexity does social media marketing figure?

There has been some talk about this report—the headline is saying, “Blogging and Social Media are “not a factor” in B2B vendor selection”. In my opinion, this tends to sensationalize the issue and make people think that blogging and social media are a waste of time. If you read the remainder of the report, you can see that the intent is not to steer B2B marketers away from these (worthwhile) activities. However, as we know, a headline grabs attention and people tend to get carried away discussing that before going deeper into the overall message within a piece of content.

Here’s where I think there is a disconnect: Social media and blogging are not about direct sales when it comes to B2B—they never were. So why ask that question? It’s true that we can learn from B2C, but one has to keep in mind that in B2B, it is not the same as selling your widget direct to consumer from a Facebook update or a blog post. Social media and blogging have always been about the long game—of lead nurturing; the marathon, not a sprint. If you think that social media is about increasing sales, then you are definitely far off the mark. Let’s say you did only look at activities that led directly to a sale, it still wouldn’t work. As I started out by saying, we now live in an era where the sale itself is complex. There is so much information out there (often, it’s just noise) that the best way, so far, to break through the noise and be heard is to nurture with high quality, valuable content.

Whether it is your social media profiles or your company blog, you have to inform and engage through touching and reaching out to prospects indirectly. They don’t expect and don’t want to be “sold to” on social media because they want to be in control of when to buy, what to buy and from whom to buy. The best way for a B2B buyer to maintain this control is by fact-finding, information-gathering and conversing with their peers on social media as well as offline. As a vendor, your only chance to get into that mind space is through thought leadership and truly useful, relevant content your audience can consume and share on social media. So if you go by the headline in the report quoted above, and start believing that you cannot influence the vendor selection process in your favour with blogging and social content, you would be making a huge mistake. Instead, try these 5 Ways to Make a Killer First Impression on Social Media.

One thing I agree to in this report is that we aren’t doing a good enough job of providing relevant content. That is true and we have   talked about it before. Read: Is Content Killing Your B2B Sales?

I venture to say this is a symptom of the ongoing challenge of what to measure when it comes to social media and blogging. As we can see here, measuring direct sales is not helpful.  Maybe you will give up measuring as Buffer did?

Gary Vaynerchuk’s response when people ask how to measure the value of ROI is “Well, what’s the ROI of your mother?” How much has your mother impacted where you are today? How do you put a value on that? Similarly, how do you put a value on social media? Here are 9 Ways to Simplify Social Media ROI.

People are asking me, “Are you going to give up your blog? Are you going to do less of social media?” Absolutely not! I’m doing this for the right reasons, i.e., to build thought leadership, to enhance credibility and brand awareness, to serve my target audience with information they need and can use every day in their business. It’s also to maintain that top-of-mind visibility for my buyers who are flying across 4 different time zones in one day, switching between multiple mobile devices and making decisions based on how quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively my company’s solutions resolve their most complex business challenges. Here is a refresher on How to Make your B2B Blog Deliver Incredible Results.

The C-Suite in your organization will still continue to ask questions about metrics and measuring ROI of social media and blogging. And that is fair; but don’t dismiss these activities entirely because you feel like you can’t show ROI. Make no mistake, ROI is critical and you absolutely must monitor and measure it. But if it takes away from the real, tangible goals and objectives that make any sense at all from an overall business perspective, then maybe you are over-thinking the matter. Here are some good questions to ask and helpful advice on how to measure social media ROI.

Is there sufficient proof to demonstrate audience engagement and participation in your social media and blogging activities? How can you increase the impact your blogging and social content are having on your B2B sales? Leave me a comment. You can also email or call me, Louis Foong, at (905) 709-3827.   

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Louis Foong
Louis Foong is the founder and CEO of The ALEA Group Inc., one of North America's most innovative B2B demand generation specialists. With more than three decades of experience in the field, Louis is a thought leader on trends, best practices and issues concerning marketing and lead generation. Louis' astute sense of marketing and sales along with a clear vision of the evolving lead generation landscape has proved beneficial to numerous organizations, both small and large.


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