In the exciting world of B2C, social media is not hard to justify. Consumer brands do an excellent job in engaging with their fans and special offers can turn the ecommerce revenue tap on within minutes.
But in the tough world or B2B, investing time, effort and hard earned cash in social media is much more difficult to justify. We often get asked the same question by B2B clients and prospects: “Where is the money for me in social media?” Even if you think you are nowhere near discovering your social media pot of gold, here are six other, very compelling reasons why you should consider giving social media a go.
Monitor your market
How often do you spend time looking at your market beyond the regular gossip in Marketing magazine or your trade press? Trends, opportunities, new technologies, new problems looking for answers, new players, new regulations, movers and shakers, are all out there, in the social media domain. Being involved in social media helps gain a much better understanding of your market without spending a fortune on reports or research.
Snoop on you competition
When was the last time you spied on your competition? Checked out their latest product launches, messages, hires, wins, campaigns, or insights? Five years ago an occasional glance at your competitors’ websites was all you could do for free. But nowadays you can use RSS (or other specialist monitoring tools) to have valuable information such as buzz about their brand, their news and press releases, staff changes and thought leadership landing on your news reader in real time.
Build and keep an audience
The Conference Centre at Olympia can hold 449 people. What does it take to fill it for just an hour? If you are Dell’s social media director, just a Tweet might be enough. But if you are a hard working marketing professional trying to make a living, it might take an email blast to 91,600 people (7% click-through, 10% bookings, 7/10 show up). Yet, you can get the same or even greater reach with a lot less effort and for much longer than just an hour. Using a combination of Twitter, LinkedIn and a blog you can create an audience of hundreds of people who will be receiving your regular business updates without you having to commit any significant effort other than produce content. But how about the relevance of this audience you might ask? Well, the 449 people in the Conference Centre would be somewhat relevant, bound to be a mixture of competitors, prospects, consultants, graduates, and suppliers all brought together first by the show and second by your compelling presentation. Online, your audience is likely to be of a similar make up, although here they are not just a faceless mass, but you will know their identities, making further communication a reality.
Sharpen your thinking
Daily tasks and challenges at work often force us to deal only with what’s in front of us and to lose sight of the bigger picture. How often do you think about your company’s products and services, how you package them and market them, how you engage with your customers and how you attract new ones? How often do you scrutinise, or even challenge the ways you are used to doing things? Creating regular social media content to share with your audience forces you to keep examining, challenging and refining your thinking, convictions as well as actions. Your writing must add value and the need for relevance will bring your ideas a lot closer to your clients’ and prospects’ needs.
Protect your brand
Have you typed your company name on Google to see what comes up? It is likely you will see a mixture of links to your website and social media channels, long forgotten press releases, links to directories you never knew existed, links to blogs and LinkedIn profiles belonging to ex employees, links to Facebook alumni groups and potentially a lot more. A presence in social media can be a minefield for your brand which, if unchecked, can undo all the great work your company has done to ensure brand control and consistency across your other more traditional channels. Potential problems can be varied or outdated company descriptions, misused brand insignia, old company addresses, dead links, social media vanity URLs taken by other irrelevant parties, unauthorised content posted by employees on unapproved places, or even whole company profiles set up and managed by current or ex staff. Being actively involved in social media will force you to respond to such brand abuse by creating social media policies, exercising tighter control over content and authorship and cleaning up the brand image.
Involve your team
You know there are some really clever people in your team (or in other company departments) doing some really clever stuff and you know that your audience is longing for new ideas, challenges and insights. Social media gives you the opportunity to engage your team (at least those with the right online social skills), give them ownership of certain topics and the authority to broadcast their ideas and engage with the relevant audience.