Social Media

Posted by pbc_admin
on May 18, 2011

Is Social Media a Waste of Time and Money for B2B? – Glenn Gow says No

Glenn Gow is CEO of Crimson Consulting Group, a strategic marketing consultancy focused on B2B clients, with a focus on technology marketing.

In this article, Glenn addresses:

  • Legitimate concerns B2Bs have about investing in social media campaigns
  • Why B2B can’t afford to stay out of social media

Janet, a senior executive at one of our B2B clients, recently said to me, “Social media just doesn’t feel like an important area of investment for us. We’re not selling to consumers, we’re selling to hardcore businesspeople. I think we’d be wasting our time and money.”

I couldn’t blame her for being skeptical. Though no one can deny the explosive popularity of social media, some hard-core justifications for its B2B use have yet to be laid out.

Businesses of all sizes are executing Twitter campaigns, creating Facebook business pages, and producing corporate blogs and YouTube videos they hope will “go viral.” Those things can work when targeting consumers, but do they work when targeting other businesses?

The jury’s still out, but B2B companies are nonetheless rushing to jump on the social media bandwagon for fear of being left behind in an environment full of constant paradigm shifts that occur at lightning speed.

But the concerns Janet expressed are real. Here’s why:

  • “Show me the metrics!” Unless you have a windfall success story, like Avaya’s quarter-million-dollar deal, which came in large part thanks to Twitter, there aren’t a lot of solid B2B examples to site yet, particularly when compared to the plethora of B2C successes.
  • “Show me the money!” Executives understandably want to see solid links between investments in marketing programs and real revenue. Tracking makes it easy to see the number of friends, followers, connections, and comments one is getting, but how does that translate to the bottom line? Does a popular blog result in any measurable dollars? Maybe not. Finding these links can be a nebulous, if not, impossible venture. For some, that’s a deal breaker.
  • “Show me the point!” Janet commented on wasting time. Social media takes time, and lots of it. It’s no small task in time or expense to establish a professional presence in social media. It’s also not something you should start and stop. It’s a commitment to an effort that may not bring much ROI for quite a while. But half-hearted attempts don’t impress and can actually do harm. So if you’re not up for the long swim, don’t dip your toe in the water.

So why are B2Bs increasing their investments?

If the above sounds pretty dismal, why are 86% of B2B companies investing in some form of social media, compared to only 82% of B2Cs? For starters, consider that social media isn’t the first time a technology, initially targeted for personal use, has transformed into a major business tool. Think instant messaging, smartphones, and smartphone apps, which were originally designed for personal use and fun and were frowned upon by the business world. It’s hard not to see a similar trend with social media.

I shared the following four thoughts with Janet.

1. Consider integration vs. ad hoc postings

Janet’s company may already have a social presence, whether or not she knows it or likes it. Many employees regularly create haphazard, ad hoc postings about their company… not only on LinkedIn but also on Facebook, blogs, Twitter, and YouTube. Such uncontrolled, disparate postings can be a disadvantage; they might work at cross purposes both to each other and to an integrated marketing plan. It’s far better to own your social media presence so that it’s a cohesive whole.

2. Janet’s B2B audience is there

Even though Janet’s target is businesspeople, not consumers, professional buyers now consult social media sources during the buying process and before making a decision. Recent studies have found that up to 90% of B2B buyers use social media to research purchases and are heavily influenced by third-party feedback in their purchasing decisions—both to identify solutions and to limit risk.

The directive to “be where your audience is” has never been more relevant or more possible than in today’s integrated Web, where marketers can know precisely who and where their audience is. “Being there” has also gone beyond a direct dollars-and-cents relationship: A presence in social media has simply come to be expected.

Businesses that aren’t present on social media are creating a negative perception of themselves as being behind the times or unavailable to their clientele.

3. The multiplier effect is hard to argue with

Best-practices already exist for using social media as part of an integrated marketing plan. No marketing element—whether tradeshow, ad campaign, or thought-leadership webinar—should be used in a vacuum: Integration and expansion are the keys for achieving marketing impact.

When used as a follow-on tool for another campaign, social media channels provide an excellent venue for broadening the impact of other marketing strategies and investments. And though not everything goes viral the way we might like, you can dramatically increase your reach with a Tweet here and a Facebook posting there.

4. Don’t get trumped by your competition

Rising success stories (check out how an EMC campaign used nearly every promotional channel) are validating the concern that B2B social media skeptics—and their businesses—will be left gasping in their competitor’s exhaust.

The hard reality is that ROI metrics are imprecise, and it’s always been difficult for Marketing to link its efforts directly with revenue. Perhaps the question is, why should B2B social media be any different? (See this slideshare/webinar on generating ROI from social media.)

Though social media may still be an unproven channel that delivers results difficult to quantify, it’s moving forward so quickly that there’s real risk in staying out of the game. Yes, there is risk involved in allocating money to a B2B social media campaign… but as marketers, we’re used to risk, and there is even greater risk in not doing so.

***

I confirmed with Janet that, for her, there is indeed a leap of faith involved in B2B social media. But the question today is not whether you can afford to implement a B2B social media presence into your marketing campaigns—it’s whether you can afford not to.

Posted by pbc_admin
on April 26, 2011

A First Look at Facebook’s New Deals

Facebook’s new Deals feature will launch Tuesday in five U.S. cities. This article gives you a first glimpse of how those offers will look and function.

Posted by pbc_admin
on April 20, 2011

THE FACEBOOK RULEBOOK – BUSINESS PAGES VS. PERSONAL PROFILES

There’s no doubt that it’s tempting when setting up a Facebook business page or group to take the easy way and use a personal profile. But don’t do it! Because if Facebook cracks down you will lose your page and all of the work that you put into building it. Plus, there are some good reasons for doing the work of converting Friends to Fans.

The Facebook Rule on Page Creation reads:

Profiles represent individuals and must be held under an individual name, while Pages allow an organization, business, celebrity, or band to maintain a professional presence on Facebook. You may only create Facebook Pages to represent real organizations of which you are an authorized representative.

Having seen an increasing amount of businesses using personal profiles as their company page as well as getting annoyed at people taking the easy way out, I wanted to find out why the practice has become so prevalent. I have been living under the above assumption that personal profiles are meant for real people and business fan pages are designed for companies that offer business-focused analytical tools that you aren’t on a personal profile.

Have I been living in another social media universe?  One where profiles are for individuals and pages are for businesses? Do I have it all wrong? Profiles and pages have different features and different uses. The most obvious examples:

  • Businesses are only allowed to open pages. A business that opens a profile page is in direct violation of Facebook terms.  You would be falsifying the record to open it otherwise.
  • Business pages allow other users to become fans by just clicking a button, but access to the individual profile pages is limited. You have to have a friend request approved to have access to the profile page.
  • Business pages do not allow the ability to invite friends, so you cannot maintain a friends list – only maintain a fan lisT.

OK, so I have the rules right – profiles ARE for people and pages are for businesses.

Good, so then my question is: What are the benefits using a personal profile for business? It’s got to be because it feels like you can collect followers easily. Instead of doing the work it takes to promote your business page to friends and converting them to fans, they can land right where you want them. But that’s where the advantage ends. Save yourself the massive headache later by creating a business page now.

Page Fans vs. Profile Friends

The big reason here is that there is a limit of 5,000 friends to a profile. You can have as many fans as you can get on your business page. When you reach 5,000 friends on your profile, you’ll have to stop there or set-up a second false personal profile.

Search Engine Optimization

You can optimize your business page for search engines because search engines index fan pages only. With the ever-increasing importance of SEO marketing, you want as many people as possible to be able to find you online under your business name.

Many Fan Pages vs. One Profile

You can have multiple fan pages, but only one personal profile. This is important for people who are entrepreneurs and want to promote their various businesses and/or groups.

Remember that you can still connect with people on a business level through your personal profile. Since people like to know the person behind the business, this is a good way to connect with them.  It’s also a great way to create your personal brand – become an expert in your field, the blogger of record, the mavens’ maven, the champion networker, etc.

Analytics, Apps & Functionality

For fan page administrators, Facebook analytics allow you to pull reports on how well the page is doing. The analytics allows the administrator to see from where the traffic is coming, the total number of post views, and much more.

With a fan page the company can create custom tabs or apps for promotions and business information. You also have option to easily customize and implement a Facebook “Like” button for the business’ web site.  And, with Facebook’s latest fan page update, administrators can now use a fan page just like a personal profile and have the ability to post on other walls.

The Facebook Police

Remember that the main reason to use fan pages for businesses is that it is Facebook law. If the FB cops ever crackdown on the use of personal profiles, you are in danger of losing it all. Not only will you lose all your friends, contacts and content, they may bar you from setting up a personal profile and legitimate business pages.

Facebook is currently one of the critical platforms in the evolution of business communication, marketing, product promotion, PR, and Customer Relationship Management. If you have a business, you need to be fully involved. And the Facebook Rulebook is pretty clear on what it takes to have a presence in its universe.

Posted by pbc_admin
on April 12, 2011

The Current Winners & Losers of Social Networking

The course of social media never did run smooth — not for long, anyhow. And for some Web 2.0 companies, it’s running less smoothly than ever.    http://mashable.com/2011/04/12/social-networks-infographic/

Posted by pbc_admin
on April 08, 2011

Google: Social Media Success Will Determine Employee Bonuses

According to a leaked memo from Google CEO Larry Page, the company is making its social efforts a top priority and will reward all employees if those products are a success — or dock everyone’s bonus if those efforts fail.   http://mashable.com/2011/04/07/google-bonuses-social-media/

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