It’s Time for B2B Marketing to Get Out of the “Dark Ages” and Do Social Media Well
In the business-to-business world, there still seems to be a reluctance to take social media seriously enough to make it work as a medium for communicating brand messages. It’s been my experience that many B2B companies handle social media one of two ways: 1.) Somewhat haphazardly, with no formal structure, strategy or guidelines, or 2.) They neglect it all together.
What companies that are not engaging through social media do not realize is that if they are not having those conversations, there is a good chance that someone else is, which means true, authentic corporate messaging may not be getting to targeted audiences. And in some cases, the completely wrong messages are out there.
Having the right social media management can turn social media from a ”should have” to a ”need to have” part of the brand-marketing continuum. Just like all other marketing efforts, social media requires a strategy, based on a set of goals, with real measurements and purposeful efforts. This is an awesome responsibility for someone without a lot of experience with marketing or the corporate world, and efforts should be taken as seriously as issuing a press release or designing a corporate website.
How can companies mitigate risks? A 2013 Protiviti study of both B2B and B2C companies found that 73% of those surveyed do not have a social media policy, and 68% do not explain their purpose for using social. By not stating the purpose of corporate social media, and putting parameters around its usage via corporate guidelines, businesses with social media are opening themselves up to a potential social crisis.
Some may be asking at this point - is there really enough potential for gain to take on the risk? The answer - absolutely! Take for example the Danish shipping giant Maersk, which utilizes its social media channels to demonstrate how they handle shipping lanes through the North Sea during the coldest, most treacherous parts of the year. As a result, their sales leads can be tracked directly to social media engagement.
Looking at Maersk again, but this time from the Drilling side, as a global rig operator they also use social media to help showcase rig life. Not only are they building long term loyalty by highlighting the brand and those that believe in those values, but Maersk’s HR is reporting that they are getting more informed, and better candidates, by posting this information online.
Social media channels are now one of the more trusted resources for unsolicited information. The keys to making it work for your company is to ensure that you have:
- Social media guidelines that include rules for engagement
- A stated purpose that articulates the context for social media
- Conscientious management and implementation of the strategy