More often than any other, the social media misconception I hear the most from new clients and even from other social media professionals is that Facebook is a social media platform not appropriate, or effective, for B2B marketing.
Eric Qualmann’s newest video in the series Social Media Revolution shows stats compiled from his book Socialnomics, and underscores how pervasive social media has become in the lives of humans, in North America and around the world.
Social Media Revolution 2013
Every age group, race, demographic and psychographic group is strongly represented in social media, especially Facebook.
And while it is true that many people are not active on any social media platform, marketers have a responsibility to generate awareness for their organization’s products, services and career opportunities to the people who are active on social media. In a few minuts, I’ll get into a media ROI comparison that will show exactly why it is so important for B2B brands to be active on social media, even and especially Facebook.
People who are active on social media are spending less time with traditional media choices – television, magazines, newspapers, etc. and more time with their eyes focused on smartphones and tablets, notebooks and desktop computers offering real-time live web and free recorded communications with virtually anyone in the world.
Twitter is even available on non-smart phones, through texting, which over the years has become a key method of quickly mobilizing huge groups of people in areas where smartphones are not common (third world and developing countries use text more than phone or online).
People & Businesses Buy From People & Businesses They Know, Like, and Trust
Of the people who are active on social media, many are consumers and many are professionals > smart B2B and B2C marketers will use social media in educating, entertaining, professional ways to build up a sense of trust in prospective clients, before the sales process even begins.
While many people feel that Facebook is not a place for Business to Business (B2B) marketers, there are many B2B brands that are using it well and connecting with the professional decision makers in their target group, on the platform where they spend time socializing.
If you can get just some of your clients, users and purchase decision influencers to enjoy engaging with you on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter or other social media not traditionally viewed as appropriate business communities, they will be more loyal to your business. More likely to stay with you than your competitors, the cold corporations who choose to ignore social media, don’t listen to the social channels for complaints & problems, and who don’t give clients entertaining education and reasons to stay with them.
Even if only a very small percentage of your customers are active on social media, the people who DO connect with you on social channels, who are your clients, are those clients in your database who are the most connected online, to the most people, who are seen as influencers and early-adopters. Every time they initiate communication with you, or respond to your posts, they are exposing your brand to their social community (on the newsfeed).
And what about the large percentage of your clients who are avoiding connecting with companies on social media, and avoiding social media altogether?
Traditional marketing tactics still work to reach them (they aren’t distracted by their smartphone or tablet, because they don’t use them in that way, if at all), and those advertising options should now be available to you, the purchasing advertiser, at more negotiable purchase rates. Traditional media are experiencing a migration of the audiences they sell (they charge advertisers to reach their “loyal” audience; if they’re losing audience, they can’t charge as much).
Also keep in mind that many traditional media brands, where audiences still rely on the brand for news and information, are breaking free of the costly shackles of being “a newspaper”, “a magazine” or other traditional distribution form and setting up shop on social media. The audience who are migrating and shifting focus to Facebook and Twitter and other social channels are still loyal and trusting of the newspaper brand (or other traditional media) and journalists who they’ve always trusted.
Your B2B brand can communicate and engage with traditional media brands on social media (i.e. The Globe and Mail newspaper brand has multiple channels as pages & accounts on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere), for little resource cost, and every time they respond to your engagement, they are exposing your brand to their entire audience. this audience was built over a long period of time and funded primarily by their history of past advertisers.
When looking at your options for B2B marketing, social media is still much less costly overall than traditional media options.
While many businesses try to get away with investing nothing in marketing, few businesses find true and sustainable success without any investment.
Strategy, planning, image development, promotions and offers all cost money, whether its for use in traditional media or on social media.
Social media community management (a professional dedicated to mining audience and media engagement opportunities on social channels), especially for a B2B organization or any organization where the social media community is valuable to them, is not something that should be trusted to a young professional or someone with little business experience. This might seem obvious to you, but when it comes to investing in your brand and hiring a professional, many businesses get tight with budgets and scrimp on quality with a low cost or inexperienced professional. In social media, as with any other important service, you get what you pay for. A cheap dentist, doctor, lawyer or designer will all produce disastrous results, as will a cheap social media manager.
You should be willing to invest $60/hour minimum for proper social media community management; for this investment you can & should expect a professional with deep experience in social media community development, technical skills and a strong community of experienced professionals available to provide support in any and all other marketing needs you have.
If you can only afford a few hours a week at this rate, instead of hiring the right person to do the social media for you, hire them to train, coach and consult with your internal team of staff members who have volunteered to add social media to their daily job responsibilities.
When you properly invest $250,000 in social media & community management each year, you can expect to grow your community and the strength of your client relationships. Once someone is in your social media community (they have Liked your Page or Followed your brand on Twitter, or joined other social circles), you can speak to them as often as you want, for as long as you can maintain a relationship that they get value from, for a very small investment.
On the other hand, when you invest the same $250,000 in newspaper advertising (as an example), you might be able to afford 4 or 5 page-dominant size ads with color in a metropolitan newspaper, but you’ll never be able to talk to the readers again, unless you continually reinvest in advertising campaigns.
If you’re an organization spending $1,000,000 or more on advertising each year, it behooves you to 1) move at least 10% of your total annual budget / investment to social media marketing activities and 2) integrate social media awareness triggers in ALL your traditional media investments – be sure that flyers, mailers, newspaper ads, TV campaigns, radio ads, outdoor advertising and all other communications (including business cards) include social media contact points.
Once you’re investing in social media, you need to support it 100% < from the CEO down, and on ALL communications.
Whitepapers and Playbooks referenced in this blog post are available free to download and share in my Social Media Concierge Public Resource Library on Google Docs.
Want me to attend your event, review your document or plans? Email me at debbie@theSparkleAgency.com
You can also request to participate as an expert or receive a free assessment of your social media activities on my new social media business show, #SparkleSOS on Google+ Hangouts on Air by emailing debbie@theSparkleAgency.com and don’t forget to add me to your G+ circles!