What would happen if your marketing department stopped being active on Social Media? Or what should happen?
When companies develop their presence on social media, it is usually the marketing department taking the lead by creating accounts on social media networks, a social media policy, a digital marketing strategy…
Then they become active on these networks by answering their questions, inspiring them with great content, and listening to their needs.
Smaller companies have only 1 or 2 people developing these social relations, larger companies have whole teams of “conversation managers”.
Although I understand the approach, and support the approach, these teams can only be present at a limited amount of networks, or “circles” as I call them.
- They just cannot be present in all the social places where your customers, partners, suppliers, investors, or competitors are present.
- They just cannot be aware of all the different domains of expertise that are required to have a holistic approach to social networking.
- They just cannot be authentic about every topic they are involved with on these networks.
I probably can think of a number of others reasons, but you probably get what I mean.
Now think of a small company, let’s say 10 people. What’s the impact of one, usually part-time, marketing person, on all of this? You guessed it. Not a lot. He/she just doesn’t have the time to do a descent job with social media.
And now imagine a bigger company, 1000 people. Here you’ll have a team of, I don’t know, 20-50 people working in marketing and being part-time or some full-time occupied with social media. Again, the impact is minimal.
Taking away the marketing department
My point is, I don’t think social media is the sole responsibility of the marketing department. Oh yes, they play a guiding role in aligning the efforts with the company strategy, and making sure all the mechanics like a policy, processes, training, tooling, etc… are available.
But in essence, everyone in the marketing department should be aligned with a number of objectives which could look like this : Read more
Advertisement overload and content overload are causing buyers to be blind for outbound marketing. Marketers these days are turning to content marketing as a way to break through the blindness and information clutter.
Because of the abundance of information out there, buyer behavior is changing. As Michael Brenner, @B2BMKTGInsider, one of my favorite marketers likes to put it :
“Buyers wait until they have completed 60-80% of their research before reaching out to vendors”.
Buyers turn to their “circles of trust”, on and off-line. Vendor information, social Media and word of mouth remain the major sources of influence to buyers according to the Buyersphere 2012 report.
The millennial effect, which describes the way the generation born after 1980 who never knew a time without internet and mobile phones, turn to social media networks for information and advice. People from this generation are slowly becoming the decision-makers of the future.
The shift of power to buyers
All these changes are causing a major shift of power:
- from site centric to user centric: buyers where informed where they go, today buyers have access to information on-line and through their networks, where-ever they are.
- from brand image to transparency: companies can no longer hide imperfections or bad behavior. They need to be open, authentic and transparent. If not they get heavily punished by the public opinion (see this Toyota case).
- from the sales guy to the buyer: buyers these days often know more then the sales guy, because they have lots of sources of information before they buy. Buyers have very detailed and specific questions, which sales people or organizations will need to able to answer.
One of the key concerns of B2B marketers today is breaking through the “marketing blindness” of buyers:
– Buyers don’t click on web-banners (they don’t even see them anymore)
– They don’t see advertisement anymore
– They skip TV commercials when they can
– They don’t open your e-mails or direct mailings.
That’s why I am so happy to get my hands on reports like these, the 2012 Buyersphere report, giving me an answer to this key question:
How do you reach your B2B buyers?
We marketers live in an amazing time: we have the ability to contact our buyers directly through social media or e-mail marketing, there’s “super intelligent” marketing automation software that targets buyers with laser precision, etc…
But does that mean you reach your buyers? I am not talking about communicating with your buyers.
I mean REACHING them, so they really feel happy to get their hands on the information you are giving them. So they position your brand as useful, knowledgeable, and trusted. And in the end put they you on their shortlist and buy from you.
But what information do they want? Where do they search for it? Who needs what kind of information, and when?
Buyer behavior mysteries revealed
The 2012 Buyersphere survey is designed to bring answers to these questions based on the actual behavior of B2B buyers. It is based on surveys o B2B buyers in the main countries in Europe, but I like to think that they are valid to other parts of the world as well.
Sometimes all it takes is to have a little idea that solves a problem. For a while now I realized that video in B2B should become an integral part of the marketing mix of B2B companies.
Out of experience I know that creating video is time consuming, expensive, and usually little people actually view these videos because as soon as they see it is an ultra-polished video they abandon. Yet another advertisement video…
And that’s where this little idea comes into play: creating video in B2B is not expensive, difficult or cumbersome ;-)
That little idea
Which video’s have the biggest effect on people ? Often marketers look at themselves when they need answers, and although that’s not always a good idea, in this case I think the answer is pretty straightforward:
- Unique videos: because of the graphical style, scenery or unique setting, they become special.
- Authentic videos: because of the setting, the people, and the topic, it is overly clear that the contents is special.
- Funny videos: we all know the effect of those.
Now each of these 3 video’s can be produced expensively, can consume a lot of time, and might have not enough effect. Unique video’s are viewed and shared, just because they are unique. But that does not mean the video will position you as a thought leader, or that it will bring you leads. The same goes for funny videos: people might even not get what you are trying to communicate, it’s just funny and they’ll view and share.
But what really resonates with people is AUTHENTICITY. Videos that help them solve their business issues, or provide them with information they need to make better business decisions.
What would happen if you start producing videos about customers that are actually using our products, in which you interview them and let them tell how they are actually using your products, and how it is helping their business? These videos are simple, non-glossy and little polished recordings.
It provides insight into communication and PR professionals (survey from 2200 communication professionals from 42 countries in Europe), and has titled it:
Challenges and Competencies for Strategic Communication
Why am I covering this report?
The reason I am covering this report is because
- It show the biggest challenges for marketers and communicators today.
- Because it comes from a descent source
- Because it has data from previous years that allows to spot trends.
Key take-away’s from the European Communication Monitor 2012
- Most important strategic issues: Need to address more audiences with limited resources
- Ethical challenges: Six out of ten PR professionals faced moral problems within the last 12 months
- Barriers to professionalization: 84% state that top management lacks understanding of communications
- Integrating and coordinating communications: Shaping multiple identities is more relevant today
- Practice of strategic communication: Operational work takes 37% of a typical week
- Social media: Large gap between perceived importance and real implementation in most organisations
- Development and qualifications: Management and business knowledge needed, but training is missing
Yes, that’s the big question in the mind of many B2B marketing executives. Until recently, that included myself.
I did not really understand what to do with this “social media” thing. To put it black and white, I thought
- Facebook was for children and not for B2B,
- LinkedIn is for business only and serves to connect with people that I know or do not know,
- and I had no clue on why a company should use Twitter?
I think that about sums up all the prejudices I had on social media.
The moment I realized what to do with social media
Last year I started reading some great books on social media. I admit, I am a late believer, but around that timeframe it started to become clear to me what I had to do with social media in a B2B context.
As I wrote before in another post on social media, you should be where our buyers are. If your buyers, although they might be there for another reason than doing business (connecting with their friends or relatives), we should be where they are. Your buyers are there joining groups related to your business, and discussing trends, features and products!
B2B marketing organizations create many marketing materials, or execute different types of outbound marketing activities.
As explained in some of my previous posts on the increasing ineffectiveness of marketing materials, for example press releases or advertisements, today’s marketers need to adapt their marketing strategy to fit the needs of today’s buyers who are on-line and make use of search engines and social media networks.
What can you do to make your marketing materials effective?
- Make them relevant: without a listening process, you have no clue what your customers want. Of course your marketing materials need to look good, but the materials and the content of the materials need to be what your customers want.
- Make them authentic: today’s buyers can smell unauthentic materials from miles away. The golden rule is: don’t write anything down unless you immediately can proof it. Don’t inflate numbers, not even when your competition is doing this, because your customers will trust you more because you promise realistic gains.
- Set your content free: too often we are afraid that the competition might steal our ideas of get access to our marketing materials. But at the same time your customers AND Google have no access to it. Set it free, on several platforms, and promote it on all social networks your customers are using.
But I’ve seen many B2B companies using it as an extension of their public relations, in which they just tweet about their press releases, new product launches, their promotions, etc…. Now that’s something you should not doing on Twitter.
Does my B2B company need Twitter?
If you are still asking yourself that question, you urgently need to dig into the topic of social media (you can start already today by reading this blog). Twitter, and social media in general, is being used heavily in B2B by journalists, analysts, but also your customers. They stay up to speed on trends, companies, and news, and educate themselves using social media.