Back in January, Louis Columbus, senior manager, enterprise marketing at Cincom Systems, wrote an article titled “B2B Marketers Need To Get Real About Social Media and Customer Engagement.” “One area I consistently see CMOs of B2B companies divided on in their efforts to compete is the value of social media,” he wrote.
“I think it is incredibly short-sighted of any CMO, whether in B2B or business-to-consumer (B2C) to discount its value and say it is irrelevant to their marketing efforts. Social media is how the current and next generation of B2B customers are choosing to learn about new solutions and stay current on brands they are loyal to.”
Living in an area like Washington, D.C. that’s uber-connected and social and web-savvy, I often think that other professionals outside the region are as connected and realize the value of these tools as much as I do. But like Louis, I meet others who just aren’t as sold as I am.
Fortune 500 companies were quicker to adapt to social media initially, and they have the budgets to create strategy, execute and evaluate success. But if you’re a CMO of a smaller company, you may not be as enthusiastic about the value of engaging your customers socially. There are probably a few reasons for why this is so:
CMOs and other c-suite professionals still think that their companies’ target demographics don’t use social media to look for their type of product.
If your company sells fertilizer or laser printing paper or some equally non-sexy product, then it’s hard for you to imagine that your target customer would want to engage with you on social media or is using the space to research products like yours. But there are probably some creative tactics you can use to reach your customers, even if it means cross-marketing with a related but non-competing product or finding ways to humanize your company and make your product fun.
They don’t have a good understanding of how interacting with these customers on social media fits into their sales funnel.
It takes a bit of technological know-how and some sophisticated tools to truly track the impact social media has on sales. Sharing data among your company’s web analytics software, customer relationship management software, online marketing software, social media engagement platform(s) and reporting system/data warehouse might not be rocket science, but it can be tough to grasp and execute if you’re new to the idea.
Successes other companies experience doing this aren’t widely shared.
We hear a lot about the successes B2C companies experience while engaging their customers on social media. However, when B2B companies achieve some sort of success doing the same thing, they either guard this information closely or it’s not widely covered in the media for lack of sex appeal. As a CMO, if you’re not crystal clear on the successes others are seeing using social media—especially your competitors—then you’re less likely to spend the time and energy to be a pioneer (unless you’re truly a visionary).
These companies probably don’t have the talent in-house to sell the benefits of social customer engagement or create/execute a strategy.
Here’s the catch: because these CMOs and other c-suite professionals don’t see the value of social media, they most likely don’t have the staff internally who would be champions for digital strategy. As a CMO, where do you begin to understand the value of investing in social media and developing a team to execute a strategy when there’s no one in-house to sell you on the idea in the first place? How do you look to an outside team for help when you’re not even clear on what your company’s needs are?
Share with us: Are you still struggling to grasp the value of a social media investment for your company? Are you a staffer trying to sell social to the c-suite at your company?
Read Blindsided! Why the rapid pace of social media communication and measurement is leaving PR agencies behind
In his Forbes.com article, “PR Agencies’ Lost Year?”, Peter Himler of Flatiron Communications makes the argument that while PR agencies are fixated on the obvious rise of mobile technology and the visual web, they’re missing real opportunities to use creative hybrids of earned, paid and owned media tactics to broadcast client messages to already overloaded audiences. Himler’s article prompted aiellejai to produce this white paper. In it, we explore why the PR industry was blindsided by the emergence of new technology and the choices these professionals will have to make internally and externally to remain valuable players in the midst of the new accelerated pace of communication.