Why You Don’t Want an Agency Managing Your B2B Social Marketing

Why You Don’t Want an Agency Managing Your B2B Social Marketing  image

Agencies do great work. So, this post is not meant to be a rant on them at all… especially as we (at times) consider ourselves to be an agency, too.  Plus we often recommend agencies to clients.

Disclaimers aside, what do we mean by the title of this post? Well, simply, that agencies are not the folks you want managing how you connect and engage with your target audience using social media.

Why not? Here are 5 reasons:

1.  It’s not about quantity… it’s about quality of audience.

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That means the goal of your B2B social marketing isn’t to create a vast audience of millions of fans and followers. Leave that to the NY Times, Starbucks, and E! Online. Instead, you need to focus on building a quality social audience overflowing with prospects, customers, and influencers… even if you end up with only hundreds (gasp!) or thousands of fans and followers on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

2.  As a B2B marketer you care most about what?  L-E-A-D-S

Not brand awareness, not PR, and not social buzz. It’s about generating leads. And how good is your agency at that? Not great, since they most likely excel at crafting messages and launching campaigns (bells and whistles included) to reach the consumer masses. They are not the ones to answer the question, “So, how many leads did that campaign generate?”

3.  Sure, social media works for broadcasting your message… but it really rocks at engaging folks on a one-to-one basis. (Agencies? Not so much.)

Re-tweeting, commenting on a blog post, liking a LinkedIn update, sharing a video, or gosh forbid, answering a question.  All guaranteed to put you on someone’s radar. And what if that someone happens to be a prospect? Now, the sales team is paying attention!

4.  Your prospects don’t want brand messaging (sorry).

Buyers and influencers want relevant and helpful content to make better decisions, impress the boss, and outwit their co-workers. That’s why we’re big fans of content marketing. And who do you think is best suited to engage prospects in quality conversations and create relevant content that’s begging to be read (and shared)? Hint: not your agency.

5.  B2B social marketing really is different.

Would you ask your agency to manage your email marketing programs? How about answer customer support complaints? Maybe do lead qualification? No, probably not. Those tasks are different than developing and launching brand awareness campaigns… well, so is B2B social marketing.

When it comes to finding, engaging, and converting prospects into leads and sales, you need to take a different approach than using an agency to manage your social marketing… as if you were a B2C company.  You’re not. You’re a B2B company.

Discuss This Article

Comments: 4

  • Jason Ford says:

    Totally agree with the points made here, although I would argue that “social media” is a pretty broad topic. It does not make a lot of sense for B2B brands to use agencies for 1-on-1 community interaction, customer service, etc.

    There are, however, a number of things that agencies *can* help B2B brands with. Specifically, the flashier display-oriented marketing pieces like putting select social posts on your home page, building a branded social hub on your website, creating social display screens for trade shows and events, and adding supporting social mentions to landing pages to increase lead conversion.

    A lot of B2B brands (GE, Dow, Cisco, Teradata, Eloqua, etc.) use our FeedMagnet platform specifically for those display-oriented social programs – and many of them have their agencies design and implement the programs since they need to fit in with the broader trade website, show design, or ad campaign design.

    You can see a few examples of the kinds of programs where agencies *can* help B2B brands with social here: http://www.feedmagnet.com/blog/b2b-social-media-marketing-examples/

  • Hi Jason,

    Thanks for your comment and good examples of what you guys are doing. We’ll check out your FeedMagnet platform.

    Our belief at Leadtail is that B2B social marketing needs to be managed differently since B2B companies have different characteristics and objectives than B2C companies. Similar to how search marketing is different than brand marketing, and even within search marketing, PPC management is different than SEO management.

    Now, that doesn’t mean B2B companies shouldn’t care about social media as a channel for brand awareness. That’s not the issue. The issue is they struggle to use social media to shorten the sales cycle, generate leads, and truly build a social audience filled with prospects.

    Why? Because they are relying on agencies to manage their social media. = )

    Unfortunately, we predict this will have a negative impact on the social media budgets for B2B companies. Why? Because the ROI is very elusive with how B2B companies are currently using social media.

  • I agree completely with 1, 3, and 5. I agree that leads are extremely important but I think are only part of the B2B marketing goal. I also think it depends on whether you are talking about inbound or outbound marketing. Either way I do think Brand is still very important. Most people are very risk averse when it comes to making buying decisions and even more so when it has to do with their job. I like the old adage that “no one ever got fired for buying Microsoft.” If you aren’t Microsoft then building a strong online profile with a consistent message becomes extremely important.

  • Hi Kevin,

    Thanks for your comment and no question that Brand is still important. It’s just not AS important for B2B companies as finding, engaging, and converting prospects into leads.

    And today, we believe that the default focus is too much on branding. Not because this is what B2B marketers are trying to achieve with their social media efforts. But instead, it’s because that’s what agencies know how to do.

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