The End of B2B Marcom as We Know It

I don’t usually make predictions, but as a B2B marketer, I predict that social media is as big, if not bigger, than the internet was back in ’94 when everyone was scurrying to put up a website. I see it happening all over again with social media. It happened to a lesser extent in ’02 with blogs, and now many B2B companies are seeing results from blogs including improved search ranking, higher engagement, etc. The fact is, social media has already impacted B2B marcom.

The End of B2B Marcom as We Know It

B2B Marcom: The New Enabling Function

Call it a disruptive technology, but social media has definitely shifted the perspective from which marketers operate. I’m referring specifically to B2B marketing communications (marcom). Marcom is not only a driver or conduit for getting the marketing message out, but also an enabling function that provides the platform for clients and prospects to engage with the brand, provide feedback and spread the word. Marketers can choose not to influence how they’re enabling clients and prospects to spread the word, but the word will still be spread.

B2B Social Media and the Buying Cycle

Thanks to social media, B2B marketing communications has become an enabling function for the buyer–particularly in the consideration phase of the often lengthy B2B buying cycle. The role of marcom in the consideration phase is to enable the buyer to connect with the communities where he or she can conduct research on the product beyond what marcom says the product will do for the buyer. The B2B marcom role is to facilitate the conversation with and through other users of the product so that the buyer can make an informed decision. Then, once prospects convert to clients, marcom needs to enable satisfied buyers to evangelize about the product within their communities of influence.

Stop Pushing Your Prospects & Clients Around

Perhaps social media hasn’t completely rid marcom of its role in pushing communications out to the market, but we should certainly look at the ratio of push to pull. (Hint: there should be more pull.) And we should also be asking ourselves how well our push communications are guiding buyers to the communities that will pull buyers into the conversation and further along the sales funnel.

Remember… by itself, social media isn’t going to directly drive revenue. However, as part of an integrated marketing communications strategy, social media can influence the B2B buying cycle.

Do B2B Marketers Have Time for Social Media?

The question is… how much time are you willing to invest in social media to have an impact? As a general rule of thumb, you’ll need to spend a minimum of one hour per day listening to the social sphere and a minimum of two hours per day to participate. That excludes the up front time researching your communities of influence, which can take as little as two or three hours to several hours. Take a look at this social media time chart from Beth Kanter.

That’s integrated marcom!

More next time…

PS Do you see social media impacting your B2B marcom strategy? Tell us on the Integrated Marcom Minute Blog.