I really, really, really didn’t want to like this book. I was so looking forward to taking the piss out of authors with the audacity to promise to make me a Marketing Superstar, let alone by doing it with B2B social media marketing.
I mean, what are the odds? Social media’s contribution in the B2B space is debatable at the best of times, and the track-pant-wearing-soul-patch-sporting-SXSW-attending-Starbucks-loitering Blognocrats have done nothing to persuade me that having a Pinterest page will mean anything more than I will miss yet another episode of Shameless.
But The B2B Social Media Book works from the thesis that social is actually a better channel for B2B than it is for B2C. We have a very clear understanding of our customers, a real or assumed expertise in our corner of the world, higher ARPU (average revenue per user) and lower budgets than our B2C friends, closer relationships between sales and customers and we’ve been steadily pounding out customer-facing content for decades. Heck, maybe those petroglyphs in France were really the quarterly newsletter for the Hunter-Gatherer Association.
The other thing is that Kip and Jeffrey understand about Daddies. Marketing’s Daddies are leads, revenue and market share. If social isn’t driving leads, it’s wasting time and, by the way, not getting a lot of internal support, either. This is basically a 200-page manual on how to get more leads from social stuff. The first few chapters tackle some basics, while Part II is a tactical guide to ebooks, webinars, blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook (yes, the Big F) and email. Part III looks at mobile, tradeshows, team management and getting past the Hand-Wringers. The text is nicely written, easy to follow and each chapter ends with a great summary and tons of links (for this reason, alone, you should buy the Kindle version).
Even if you are totally rocking social or have no intention of explaining Tumblr to your CEO, please, please, please read Chapter Three. It’s the one about Search. And it serves as a powerful reminder of why marketers must keep learning. Search today is not the one you learned about when Lycos was something other than a brand of yogurt. And it’s not the one you cut your teeth on when AOL was supplying CDs to the rearview mirrors of America. It’s not even the one you used to convince your Corporate Overlords to buy that fancy CMS (content management system). It’s a whole new ballgame that has more to do with who likes you than who links to you.
“Social media shares and mentions are quickly becoming the new inbound link…SEO is the number one reason a B2B company should be using social media marketing.”
Chapter Four is also an essential read, in my opinion. It’s the part about ROI. How refreshing to see this up at the front of the book instead of relegated to a confusing appendix with scary numbers. Even more refreshing is that it’s all familiar. Kip and Jeffrey don’t want you to learn any more scary equations; they just want you to understand the ones you already use. This chapter is an excellent reminder of why and how we calculate lifetime value and why we must first invest in accurate, reliable systems to collect and measure data. And speaking of Daddies, it includes this reminder:
“An easy mistake to make as a B2B marketer is to look at visits, leads, follows or some other tactic-specific metric of success. The real metric for success and the one graph that will propel you faster than anything else into marketing superstardom is revenue generated by marketing activity.”
The rest of the book is the kind of thing you can romp through based on your current projects. Each section includes a pretty decent primer on how and why to use a given tactic, and offers case studies of other B2B marketers who have made it work, including Indium, Corning and Intel. I liked the LinkedIn chapter, particularly its wise counsel to resist the urge to create all kinds of proprietary groups and instead wade into the existing cliques and mess with their heads a bit.
I almost blew past the chapter on Facebook. I have been of the firm belief that the Big F is for consumers and small businesses (and even they should act like adults more often). But the authors completely deflated my sanctimony with this simple comment: “If you can get your content in front of half a billion people daily, isn’t that worth considering?”. Um. Well. Yes. And even if the reality is a tiny fraction of a percent of the Big F’s post-pubescent users, that’s still a bunch more than were reading it before. I don’t have to be dull at parties anymore; I can be dull on Facebook.
Bottom Line: I’m not sure about superstardom; but since most marketers will settle for fending off the pitchfork carriers in HR for a while, I think you should read this book. It’s short, it’s well done. It will help you.