B2B Integrated Marcom Mix in a Social World and on a Shoestring Budget
For many B2B marketers there’s little or no “experimental” marketing communications budget, leaving social media out of the mix—or at least underfunded. When you have to make every marketing dollar count, time- and resource-pressed B2B marcom pros take the path of least resistance and stick with a more conventional mix. In fact, the top two reasons why marketers use social media is to drive website traffic and generate leads (2011 Social Marketing Survey, Chief!Marketer). But with limited resources, how do you know the most effective social media to integrate?
B2B marcom pros whose products and services involve considered purchases need to look at the incremental benefit of integrating social media into the marcom mix. In order to do so you need to understand how each social medium interacts with traditional media. Then, determine if you have the resources and leadership support to pursue a given social media channel. Just as limited resources force you to make tradeoffs to participate in industry events, or advertise in trade publications, so too does social media force tradeoffs in what social media to participate effectively.
Note: Don’t underestimate the importance of leadership support. Without it, your social media endeavor will not succeed unless you’re able to prove success. Then, leadership may take notice and back future endeavors. Trust me… I know this one from experience.
Remember, participating in social media doesn’t have to be an all out profile setup on select social media sites. It can simply involve participating on sites and in communities where your expertise and brand add value and can in turn generate leads. The following represent a minimalist approach to integrating social media in the B2B marcom mix:
- Corporate blogs… o.k. this one is a resource hog, but for most B2B marketers, corporate blogs are worth the effort.
I still maintain that the corporate blog is one of the most valuable online assets for B2B marcom pros. Let’s face it, the key asset of most B2B companies is their knowledge. Even if you’re manufacturing products or delivering services, the corporate blog is a good source of knowledge for prospects and customers to learn about your products and services and keeps them engaged during the buying cycle. While corporate blogs require a regular supply of good, relevant content published on a regular basis, the benefit is worth the effort in terms of traffic and SEO, and more importantly, generating leads. Solicit help from your in-house subject matter experts—product managers, scientists, engineers, sales reps, etc.
- Social media outreach… good way to stick your toe in the water
Regardless of whether or not you have a corporate blog, Twitter profile, or LinkedIn company page, you can still participate in other industry blogs and social media outlets. For example, set up listening posts to identify the influential bloggers and Tweeters in your industries and then follow them. Respond to posts where you can add value. On LinkedIn, join groups where your prospects and customers hang out and participate by adding content.
- Twitter is one of the most used B2B social media tactics, but needs to be more carefully integrated to be effective.
For many B2B marketers whose buying cycle is several months to even years, measuring the value of a Tweet is too granular a metric. However, measuring the influence regular participation on Twitter over a six-month period has on your website traffic may be a better metric. Commonly used in B2B to broadcast announcements, the real power of Twitter is less about outbound marketing and more about engaging with prospects and clients. Engagement could be within the context of a post or in response to a post by a customer or prospect. You can engage in real dialog on Twitter either directly within the stream or through direct messages. Dashboard tools such as HootSuite and TweetDeck automate posting announcements to Twitter and other social media. However, be careful not to fall into the “set it and forget it” philosophy. You still need to monitor your accounts to make sure you don’t miss an opportunity to response in a timely fashion to a prospect or customer—especially if they’re looking for support.
My personal favorite for B2B companies because of its niche in business-related communications, LinkedIn has a lot of potential to generate leads, drive website traffic and engage with customers and prospects. The key is to participate fully, which can take a substantial amount of time. At the very least, include your company page on linked in and post regular daily or weekly updates. You may consider a LinkedIn group for the purpose of a user community or even a place for your channel partners to exchange information. Answering questions that are relevant to your company’s expertise is another good outreach technique.
Any one or a combination of the above B2B social media tactics can get you started without breaking your budget. How have you integrated social media into your B2B marcom mix; what’s the cost/payback?
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