Even as social media use in B2B marketing continues to grow—57% of B2B marketers are currently using some form of social media in their business, up from 15% in 2007¹–many in the C-suite continue to have their doubts. –360 Digital Influence
For several years now, I’ve spoken to thousands of people about the value of using social media to transform business, and more specifically, the sales process. Along the way, I’ve listened to the various reasons why this “social media thing” doesn’t apply to business people in this or that industry. I hear things like “social media is for the kids”, “I can’t measure it”, “my customers aren’t using social media”, “my competition isn’t there so why should I worry about it”, “there are too many risks – it’s not worth it”, “it’s all a big time waster”, “there’s no ROI”, and finally, “social media doesn’t apply to B2B.”
Seriously? There is doubt that social media has appliciability to the B2B sales process? Given that your business is likely operating against a much small customer pool than companies that focus on the consumer, and given that as a B2B company you are most certainly selling products and services at a higher price point, you must be tuned in to the customers who base the majority of their buying decisions on the advice of peers and colleagues.
“Forrester Research reports 84% of respondents to a recent survey listed Peers and Colleagues (WOM) as the main source for purchasing decisions, compared to 69% from Vendor Web sites and 66% from traditional media.” –360 Digital Influence
The risks associated with social media usage are minor compared to the overall benefits. You may believe that today you/your company has control of your brand. As such, why risk opening yourself up to attacks, criticism and crazies with an axe to grind? The truth is that your brand is already being discussed with current and prospective buyers. Now. Every day. Online. Without you!
Are you listening?
If you are sitting on the sidelines merely playing spectator, allowing misinformation, self appointed brand ambassadors and champions engage in conversations around your brand, without your participation or recognition, you can expect an outcome that may or may not be favorable.
OK, so you know you need to get started. But how and where? Don’t rush to launch a social media campaign is my first piece of advice. Technology merely enables your business objectives. Ignore the temptation to jump into creating a blog, Facebook fan page or Twitter account. Success requires that you create a social sales strategy before jumping into the tactical elements of the technology.
Here is some guidance on getting started:
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