As part of our five tasks for online marketing in 2015, so far this week we’ve looked at third-party websites and at paid advertising. Today it’s the turn of social media, which of course means asking yourself the question: is it all worth it?
Naturally, there’s no hard-and-fast answer. There are so many different aspects to social media: not only the different services, but also the way in which a technical company might use them. The one thing which really does seem to be a waste of time, however, is just streaming out marketing messages on what is, by definition, a social platform.
If you’re a fan of one service, such as Twitter, and you’re at a small company with a small customer base, you’d be mad not to seek out your existing clients and engage with them on a social basis. At larger companies, I’ve seen some evidence of individual sales reps doing this successfully too. Corporate hospitality may well have died a death in many business sectors, but the main function for which that was designed was to “make friends” with clients and prospects. Social media can now do the job much better at far lower cost; I regularly chat to business contacts (suppliers and clients alike) on Twitter, for example, and never about work. Not surprisingly, I’d name them amongst my favourite suppliers and clients too.
LinkedIn is the most professional of the social media networks. Maintaining your own LinkedIn page properly is a huge advantage in business nowadays, as I’ve mentioned before. All of us should do this. It can be quite an eye-opener to see how many people have looked at your page in the past few months (and if you’re a LinkedIn subscriber, you can see who they are too). There are also some great opportunities to join in with discussions and even advertise.
I think, however, that the two things I’ve learned over the past few years about social media in business to business marketing are these. Firstly, they’re social. If you try to force the impersonal nature of traditional business marketing into the likes of Twitter, Facebook and even LinkedIn, you’re wasting your time. If you use them to enhance the personal relationships between you and your customers, they can be extremely effective.
Secondly, you need to be enthusiastic about them. If you like being on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, you stand a good chance of making them into an effective part of your company’s marketing. But if you don’t “get it” by now, in a personal capacity, then you shouldn’t bother in a professional one.