Social media is everywhere – you can’t hide from it anymore, not even in B2B. Many companies are (in some cases begrudgingly) accepting that social media can be a valuable medium to reach target audiences. But how do you know when you should start?
Marketers regularly advocate on behalf of thought leadership and content generation, which usually see the light of day through social media outlets. They see the value in reaching audiences in a more casual environment and aren’t as focused on the immediate result of the interaction. They are going for building trust and an altruistic (at this point) relationship with their audience.
Let me be clear, even though it is everywhere, social media isn’t for everyone. It has been my experience that individuals and companies with more ROI-driven mindsets will not be pleased with social media outreach. They are more interested in the immediate results of their actions. If faced with no tangible sales funnel activity as a result of their efforts, they will see it as a waste of time. Social media in most B2B interactions will not immediately result in a sale.
It’s better to figure out before you set up a Twitter handle, build a company Facebook page, or embark on adding a new link on your website to a blog whether or not your company has the right dynamics to support this type of strategy. You need to be really honest with yourself and ask a few very important questions to assess your readiness to begin a social media strategy. Understanding your company's philosophy about sales and marketing will help you save time and energy.
Here are a few questions to help you decide whether or not you're ready to logistically take on social media as a strategy:
Don't worry about your company's size. In most cases the size of your company doesn’t matter in regard to your readiness for social media. That being said, consider this: if you're only thinking “well everyone is doing it, we'd better too” – and you're not going to consider doing it well, it is probably a waste of your time and limited resources. There are other things you can be doing to differentiate yourself from the rest of the competition and drive home that ROI.
You have to have the time, the passion, and the resources to make this work. Social media is all about being current. No one (ok, maybe one in thousands) is going to go reading through your blog archives. People want what’s relevant and current. Updating your social media once a month isn’t going to cut it. That time is also important in relation to reading what’s relevant to your audience and being a part of the conversation. I’ve seen a lot of companies barge in trying to change the conversation with completely unrelated content trying to self-serve by promoting issues only relevant to their company’s solutions. No one is going to listen, I promise.
Social media strategy truly relies on having people who are informed and interested engaging with the world on social platforms. This doesn’t mean that you need to start writing new articles weekly, but it does mean contributing in un-selfish ways to online community boards. Differentiate yourself by becoming a helper, not a self-server only interested in bellowing the values of your product or service to anyone within earshot.
In short – if you have time to meaningfully attend to your social media, you have something authentic and valuable to contribute, you have a backup plan for when you’re swamped, and you also know the pulse on your industry – get started! It isn’t hard.
If you’re simply checking the box for marketing activities expected of your company, don’t waste time and resources. Every company in existence can have a social media presence. It’s how you approach the medium that will determine your success at generating followers and customers.