In a recent post titled The first step in social media marketing is not social media, Mark Schaefer recounts a conversation he had with a young marketing manager of a B2B manufacturing company. The manager was overwhelmed with where to begin his social media marketing efforts. So he decided to simply dive in and start by creating a Facebook page.
With over a billion active monthly users, Facebook would seem like a reasonable place to start, right? It might be. But it also might turn out to be a huge waste of time and resources. The only way to mitigate that risk is to first create a strategy.
Before you invest a penny in social media you need to determine who your target customer is. Once you’ve done that you can then figure out what social media platforms that customer uses, if any at all. Only after you’ve gone through this analytical process can you start investing in a social media marketing plan.
Many B2B companies skip this process and end up wasting valuable resources on social media marketing that ends up flopping simply because they’ve chosen the wrong social network to target. If you can afford to burn marketing dollars then I guess it probably doesn’t matter too much if you get zero results from your investment. Most B2B companies that I know aren’t in the money to burn category. They’ve got limited resources that they need to allocate as strategically as possible to get the most ROI, or bang for their buck.
Just because a social media network is super popular with your kids or friends doesn’t mean it’s the right place for your business to be engaging.
I recently spoke with a CEO of a technology related B2B company about his social media marketing strategy, or lack of one. He said something like, “of course we’re on Facebook” as if to NOT be on Facebook would make him the “squarest” guy in town. But given the nature of his business, investing resources in Facebook is probably just a waste. For other businesses it might be the only place worth being.
Successful social media marketing requires a huge amount of time and effort. Spreading your limited resources on platforms that aren’t going to return results will hurt your efforts on the platforms that are. As an old Talmudic saying teaches, “If you try to grab too much, you end up with nothing.”
Before you jump in and start creating profiles and engaging, do your research and create your customer personas to determine what social media networks they use. Then figure out how much you’ve got to invest. You might have to choose between 2 valid target social media networks if you only have enough resources to succeed on one. This is better than splitting your resources and failing at both.
Now that you’ve done your research, created your customer personas, evaluated your resources and determined your ideal target social media networks — what are you waiting for? Get to work!