This week I spent two days in London at The Internet World Expo, and attended a seminar on Blogging and Twitter for B2B hosted by B2B Marketing. It’s fair to say that those two days absolutely gave food for thought. In this post I will try summarise my main lessons learned.
Start By Listening
However the opportunities within social media are perceived, and whether or not a company looks to establish a social media strategy, companies should start by listening. It was stressed many times that people are already talking about “your” brand online, and that any company – regardless of the general involvement in social media – should listen because people are already speaking about “your brand” online.” You” better figure out what they’re saying.
Sometimes especially smaller B2B companies might not be mentioned at all on the web. The lesson stands regardless; companies should map out what people are saying where, even though they might say nothing at all. A good starting point could be howsociable.com.
The next step is to act upon what people are saying; proceed, but proceed with care. One doesn’t necessarily need to respond to criticism, but one could use it to improve products and/or services.
David Burnand (@davidburnand) put some food for thought on Twitter though; «Lesson of the day: Fortune favours the brave if you are a B2B brand on Twitter and other social media: so engage!»
Always tie business objectives to the social media strategy
One of the recurring points was a strong emphasis on having a business objective for the initiatives in social media; companies shouldn’t jump in with both feet. It could all be a waste of time and money. One would need to figure out what business objective social media could help achieving, i.e. «use social media where it might be useful» (quote Steve Lambs, @actionlamb, i.e. «Uncommon sense in the world of social media»).
The ROI on social media is not always quantifiable, especially not in B2B. If you want to raise awareness, sure one could measure both increase in quantity (visitors) and quality (pageviews and bounce rate).
But if social media is used for networking, how do you measure relationships? What if social media is used to build credibility, how do you measure trust?
Just like no one measures the ROI on a telephone call or ROI on the time spent with a business partner for a pint, everything in social media can’t be measured; focus on the bottom line.
Social Media is Social
Which brings leads up to the last lesson of this blog post; social media is social. The new era of connectedness is not about technology, it is about relationships and people. Companies should be honest, transparent, and authentic. At the same time; be interesting and don’t say anything stupid.
But companies shouldn’t be too afraid to make mistakes. Even though social media has caused some stir, these are the odd exceptions. Companies shouldn’t be afraid to engage in social media because they’re afraid the shit might hit the fan. Being too cautious might be the roadblock to success; if companies e.g. only posts their press releases and doesn’t engage in conversations on Twitter, no one would even take notice.
- «Uncommon Sense in the World of Technology and Social Media», slides (Steve Lamb, Microsoft, @actionlamb)
- «2010: B2B Social Media That Works», slides (Mike Rowland, Impact Interactions, @ImpactInteract)
- «Blogging as a part of your content marketing strategy», slides (John Watton, ShipServ, @jwatton)
Did you attend The Internet World Expo or the B2B Marketing Seminar on Blogging and Twitter for B2B? What are your lessons learned?