Social media is, well, everywhere. Nielsen NetView reported that, as of February, there were 7,038,000 Twitter users, an increase of 1,382% from the previous year. In April, BtoB Magazine reported that 58% of best-in-class companies have dedicated resources devoted to social marketing.
Blog articles are everywhere, and each has an important element to add to the conversation:
- On Savvy B2B Marketing, in “Social Business – Where Will It Lead?,” Jamie Wallace points out the powerful connection between being social and social media. In it she envisions a hopeful future for social media that goes far beyond marketing and profit.
- In “Social Media Use Soars Among B2B Marketers: Really?” on B2B Marketing POSTs, Laura Ramos questions social media survey results and wonders if they truly represent the participation and the impact of that participation.
- Then, of course, there’s Writing Boots’ David Murray’s humorous but true take last spring on how lives are endangered by an obsession with Twitter in “Shel Holtz vs. Kurt Vonnegut.”
Social media Webcasts and conference sessions attract the greatest attendance, and marketing directors are feeling guilty if they haven’t added a strong social media presence to their marketing mix.
Unfortunately, most of the B2B companies I have the pleasure of working with don’t have the dollars or the manpower to keep up with this new channel and take advantage of it in any sort of a formal way. Individual employees may participate here and there, but most companies are too busy trying to generate leads and sales to deploy any formal or effective social media implementation.
So how guilty should non-participants feel? The first session I attended on social media included the advice that, “rather than create your own company blog, you can achieve the same impact by getting other blogs to talk about your company.” This sounded suspiciously like PR to me and not direct marketing. In fact, blogs themselves are (just like white papers and other content) a way to position a company as a thought leader and support the brand.
So should B2B marketers feel guilty about not having a strong social media presence? Your first job is to generate qualified leads that can lead directly to sales. That is, to build a pipeline of companies and contacts that can be nurtured and turned directly into sales and revenue. Until social media can directly generate those leads I say keep an eye on it; but, for now, ignore your guilt and move on.
If you have more insight on how your B2B company is handling its social media, please share it.