Who cares if 25,000 people follow you on Twitter if you’re not engaging with any of them?
Amazingly, many B2B marketers still don’t get social media.
A recent CMO Survey reported that while B2B social media spending increased 9.6% last year, the majority of B2B companies failed to integrate social media into their business practices.
“The biggest challenge is that many companies view social media as a cute promotional activity rather than a strategic marketing activity,” says Christine Moorman, director of The CMO Survey and T. Austin Finch senior professor of business administration at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.
According to Brian Kardon, CMO, Lattice Engines, "We’re in the 'silo' stage, where most social is generally segregated from the rest of the organization.”
A big problem is that most B2B companies don’t understand that this rapid-fire media requires a combined technology and business approach. Rather than strategizing how to engage with their followers, many companies leave the heavy lifting to “some kid out of college who tweets but has no knowledge of business processes," says Joe Chernov, VP of Marketing at Kinvey.
B2B companies pay a price for the lack of integration. A 2011 global survey of senior B2B and B2C managers found a significantly high correlation between financial performance and social media integration, says Steven Van Belleghem, author of The Conversation Company, and former managing director of InSites Consulting, which fielded the survey.
So where does that leave marketers? Here are 7 steps to take to help you increase your social media effectiveness:
1. Understand why social matters. “Social media is becoming a real competitive advantage for the companies that do it well; the gap is widening between the companies that have been organizing around social media and those that have not,” says Kardon.
2. Create goals. What do you want to achieve from your social media? Do you want to track sales, monitor customer complaints, grow brand equity? Do you want to push or pull?
3. Get top management buy-in. “You need a champion to get people from across the organization to pay attention and act,” says Moorman.
4. Give social media a home. In our experience and that of many experts, it belongs in marketing so it can be integrated with other marketing channels.
5. Structure your social media team. The need to prioritize what to do and get it done quickly has disrupted the traditional setup of the marketing organization,” says Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, CMO, Mindjet, which has developed “scrum teams” comprised of design, media buying, development and all the other resources necessary to executive a strategic campaign. Regardless of the approach, however, there has to be a built-in workflow system linking social to customer service, sales, operations and other business processes.
6. Train employees. Don’t just assume they get and feel comfortable using this media form.
7. Get accountable. Establish an accountability system that demonstrates social media's impact on your objectives.
Social media is not an indulgence. Companies that fail to take these steps will find themselves outflanked by their competitors.
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