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13.6.2013

The Business of Social


simon butler

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The Business of Social

Every Marketing Director in B2B is expected to answer the question – ‘What’s our social media strategy?’. For most, the combination of LinkedIn, Twitter and company blog suffices. A slightly tougher question to answer is ‘…and what leads is social media delivering?’





social-media-billboard

Social media has tended to sit alone, outside mainstream marketing and certainly without hard metrics to validate its value to an organisation. We believe that this has to change – what is the true value of a ‘like, follow, or re-tweet’?.

Many organisations follow the lead of consumer brands, looking at how they use Facebook , Twitter et al and simply using social media as if it’s a consumer channel – we will tell you everything about us and hope some of it’s relevant.  This harks back to the ‘bad old days’ of early email marketing – not respecting the audience because the method of communication is perceived as being cheap!  Just a we proved with email, a social media ‘follow’, ‘connect’ or ‘like’ should be seen as an indicator of interest, not an invitation to bombard me with poor, ill-considered content.   This doesn’t work for a B2B audience and you’ll undoubtedly have a hard time convincing your Board to believe in any worthwhile investment in B2B social media. Of course, social media is here to stay ( today’s Facebook user is tomorrows influencer/ decision maker/ authoriser. Social media has the chance to solve some long-standing issues within communications from organisations. That of trust, impartiality and context - the good news is that B2B social media can work and deliver results  when it works as a part of a communications mix, not as a standalone channel.

Whatever social media strategies B2B organisations have adopted, many have struggled initially. The strength of digital communication is its ‘track-abilty’ and the clear ROI that digital campaigns can deliver. Weaving social media messaging into an overall campaign is a complex skill and it seems  the intricate strategy a Client has planned is wonderfully strategic, but lacks any integration, with other media, other messages and other content. It is easy to forget that social media is simply a different communication channel with an equal need of financial & time investment and attention.

Purestone have perfected a simple approach to B2B social media integration – identifying & then filling in communication gaps to establish overall digital strategy without neglecting overall business objectives of clients. Having established the ‘why are we communicating?’,  we ask some simple questions:

  1. What social channels do your audiences use?

  2. What do your target audiences use social media for? Are they seeking information they can’t get / don’t get from other channels?

  3. How can we support this usage with relevant content & context?

  4. What could we be providing additionally?

It is clear that social media is all about people and the ‘circles of trust’ that are created from our friends, peers and family.  Social media not only expands our own horizon, like an extended family it creates an environment where opinion can be sought and given without fear of commercial interference. True ‘brand values’ come to the fore and are experienced, then evidenced first hand.   

Integrated digital campaigns require social media to take a seat as a member of the communication mix. The challenge is integrating the messaging correctly – and we follow 3 steps to deliver a successful outcome :

1. Communicate:

  1. Identify the sets of influencers that exist internally and externally to your organisation.

  2. Create touch points where these audiences are united around the brand.

  3. Develop the online conversation so it becomes stimulating, engaging and rewarding.

2. Curate:

Social media provides the opportunity to re-define the content landscape, sharing, involving and engaging cross sections of the brand audience. In realtime, content creation and curation must work together, sharing news in a LinkedIn post, a tweet and a video vox pop on Facebook.  It’s common sense really – create the content and provide it to the right audience in the right context.

3. Consolidate:

Where does responsibility for social media lie? Some see it as online PR, others as a marketing broadcast channel. From an audience perspective, I don’t care where, I care about who hears me and what response I get. When  I want to communicate with you – to HR, Finance, Customer Service, Sales – I expect a unified, consistent response. By getting each department to contribute and ‘buy into’ a cohesive plan, we can deliver many business functions through an online channel. Integrating this with traditional communications methods allows transparency and clarity of message to become a satisfactory outcome.

This approach leads to unified, integrated social media as part of a digital strategy that works alongside traditional marketing communications to deliver the objectives and aspirations of a brand. Social is speaking to B2B audiences more than ever, so let’s make sure you have something relevant and worthwhile to say! 

 

 



social media•b2b marketing