Social Media Marketing for the Skeptic

While we’ve spent the first several weeks of the semester discussing the expanding role of social media in our everyday lives, the various services, applications, and/or use cases of social media, as well as both its perceived pros and cons, I’d like to take the conversation a bit further by diving into social media’s effectiveness and relevance as a B2B (business-to-business) marketing tool.

On a recent blog post by Jessica Locke of Brafton News, an web-based content marketing firm, Jessica poses a strong a well-supported argument about social media’s importance and effectiveness as a B2B marketing tool. While B2C (business-to-consumer) or “retail” consumer marketing widely utilizes social media channels as a vital aspect of effective marketing and communications campaigns, B2B marketers have been slow to adopt the trend.

Some of the key takeaways from Jessica’s post (should you not have the time to read through it), ultimately aim at trying to make believers out of skeptics:

  • B2B marketers constantly say that they see the benefits of using social media in general, just not for their industries – “Our clients aren’t looking for our products on Facebook or Twitter”
  • Social reach does in fact apply to B2B companies – “C-level executives, HR departments and/or operations managers look for information related to the industry that they are in, or services they may be interested in incorporating into their business models.”
  • Social media is where decision makers are actually getting their industry information and research
  • From  a B2B marketing perspective, “your audience might be other businesses, but the business does not make the purchasing decision”…people do
  • Don’t think of your B2B customers as companies you work for, they’re people
  • Platform matters – LinkedIn has become a strong driver of B2B promotion more so than Facebook or Twitter

Additionally, I would add that brand promotion through social channels, while important, is not enough to sway customers from a B2B marketing perspective. You must go one step further – thought-leadership. By using social channels to foster client education and/or dialogue about your products or services within a targeted social network, it helps to not only promote brand awareness but encourage existing clients to speak on the company’s behalf and enlighten potential prospects as to the benefits your company can provide. The community, in effect, does the marketing for you.

I’m curious if in the class agrees with the above perspective. Are any of you in a B2B role? Are you a skeptic as well? What might some negatives be for a B2B company using social media as a marketing driver?


One thought on “Social Media Marketing for the Skeptic

  1. This is a very interesting article. I work with a few B2B companies on their marketing initiatives and social really has never entered the conversation. Their advertising focus (at least in my experience) has been focused around marketing on niche sites (industry focused) or targeting (data and behavioral targeting). Their ultimate goal is direct response (customer acquisition).

    I agree with your comment that utilizing social media to position your B2B company as a “industry thought leader” provides the best usage of social media. It may be more cost effective and drive more brand awareness and affinity than throwing a lot of marketing dollars on a niche site that may or may not be hitting your intended audience.

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