Are You Sure Your B2B Needs Social Media Marketing?

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!



Is Social Media Marketing Automation Bad for Your Business?

I’m a big fan of automating any task that will save me time, as long as it doesn’t negatively effect quality or results. One of the obvious candidates for successful automation is social media marketing.

Depending on your type of business you’re probably using at least 2 or 3 social media platforms to distribute content and engage with prospects and customers. That can take a lot of time, especially if you’re active and looking to see positive results. Social media management is a full time job in many companies (or many full time jobs).

For companies that don’t have the resources to hire full time social media managers, or if you’re doing it all solo, automating your social media is a necessity. There are plenty of great tools which you can use to schedule your social media posts like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and Buffer.

In this Social Media Examiner article author Kristi Hines explains a way to use IFTTT (If This Then That), Feedly, Gmail and Buffer to easily share curated content to your social media accounts. This automated system finds the content for you and then shares it! Sounds like the answer to your prayers.

But there’s a fundamental problem with this sort of automated social media sharing: you end up sharing content that you haven’t read.

If you’re just interested in filling the social universe with your presence, then this can work well for you. But if your objective is to create thought leadership and trust, then blind sharing will end up hurting you.

Simply confining your algorithm to exclusively curate the content of thought leaders in your field isn’t good enough. If you want to be respected as an expert in your field and gain the trust of your followers you need to make sure that every piece of content you share meets your high standards. You can’t do that without reading them first.

While I respect the experts that I follow, I don’t always find everything they write to be something I think is share-worthy for my particular audience. Hey, sometimes even thought leaders have a bad day. There are certain people I’ll read religiously, but I’ll only share around 25% of their posts because I feel that while the rest are good, they aren’t right for my followers. I don’t want to turn into the boy who cried wolf on social media! That would hurt my credibility and cause my followers to start paying less attention to my shares, or ignoring them all together.

I also like to add a few words of introduction or teaser copy along with the link I’m sharing, and that’s really hard to do if I haven’t read the content.

Sure, reading before sharing takes time and you won’t be able to share anywhere near the amount you could with an automated system. But the posts you do share will be much more valuable to your followers and thereby make you much more valuable to them as someone they can trust to provide them with the kind of content they appreciate.

What do you think about sharing content without first reading it?