When I have conversations about breaking into social media with VP’s of corporate communications and marketing – or even CMO’s – at B to B companies, I often hear “There is just so much noise.”
What they’re really getting at with this statement, is “the masses” of social media enthusiasts that they are communicating with via social media platforms.
The majority of those I’ve chatted with understand that by participating and engaging they are raising awareness of their companies, products, services and messages, but it’s hard to illustrate value and ROI to the corporate suite outside of measuring message penetration and the site traffic which the social dialogue is driving.
While connecting with the masses via Twitter and Facebook makes perfect sense for their peers at consumer-facing companies, their use and strategy behind social media needs to be better targeted to provide real value in the current economy. In the downturn B-B marketers are scrambling to provide leads, with both traditional and digital media, and connecting with “the masses” doesn’t necessarily assist them with their efforts.
Although I openly acknowledge that social media may not be the best tool for B-B companies for generating leads, launching a dual-track approach to social media that includes a program targeted at reaching decision makers at prospective customers (in addition to a broader program) through social platforms is jumping-off point that can supplement other efforts and bear fruit down the line. This targeted approach can assist marketers with tuning out some of the “noise,” by focusing in on decision makers and influencers at targets who control purse strings or have influence over making potential 5-7 figure deals.
PR and social media agencies can assist in this effort by working with companies to narrow down their top prospects and observe which relevant executives within those companies are active in social media channels (i.e. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). In observing where these companies and their executives are participating, the types of conversations they are having and the “social network” that they interact with, a strategy can be formulated to approach and begin dialogue with them. Some may argue that this is merely glorified assistance with personal / business networking.
However, given the current economic climate and the rapid digital evolution that the communications industry is witnessing, I believe it is a task that agencies and internal communications / marketing departments must take on to stay successful and relevant in the future.