The Forward Observer > Marketing For The Front Line of Sales

How B2B Marketers Can Nail Social Media

Written by Douglas Burdett | Apr 12, 2012 11:00:00 AM

For many B2B marketers, the hardest part of implementing or improving their social media is getting started. Here's a book that can help.

For B2B marketers who embrace social media, it can be a boon with growth-generating potential.  However, for those B2B marketers who are unwilling or unable to recognize social media's growing influence and power, it can spell serious trouble.

In "The Social Media Management Handbook" by Accenture executives Nick Smith, Robert Wollan and Catherine Zhou, the authors tackle the thorny issue of implementing a successful, integrated social media program for businesses.

This is not a book about how to set up corporate Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages.  The book covers strategy, culture, metrics, policies, roles and responsibilities related to making social media work for a business.  At this strategic level, it helps bring structure and commercial return to social media, as well as how best to invest precious internal resources toward it.

The authors identify key areas to capitalize on and overcome the challenges of social media.  Here's my summary as they relate to B2B marketers:

Pick a Strategy Before It Picks You - B2B marketers need to understand the benefits of engagement, as well as the risks of not engaging.

"The “fire, ready, aim” approach can, at best, result in failing to fully capitalize on the benefits of social media. At worst, it can lead to a public relations and customer relationship nightmare."

Answering the "why" and "how" of social media starts with getting the organization, especially the top brass, behind a social media initiative. Along with setting the right strategy, it should include metrics.

You're No Longer On Stage - You're in the Crowd - Whereas in the past, corporate communications flowed in one direction from the company, social media has turned that almost completely around.

"Prior to social media, people were on the receiving end of a company’s actions while, today, they have joined the conversation and play a more significant role in shaping what is “done to them.”

It's Not Just a New Channel; it's a Catalyst of Change at Your Business - While many companies understand how social media affects how they market and sell, fewer have grasped how social media can help them respond to customer problems.  Social media is also a great source of free customer feedback that can lead to product improvements or even new products.

"How well companies deal with these moments of truth can go a long way toward determining whether customer word of mouth will propel a company and its brand to stratospheric heights or catastrophic lows."

Get Started and Expect Big Changes - Social media is more often associated with marketing and sales functions, but is beginning to permeate the entire organization, including R&D, HR and IT.

"The scope and scale of social media is such that all functions of a company—not just the front office—are affected, albeit to varying degrees."

Click here to download a copy of the executive summary of "The Social Media Management Handbook" or view the SlideShare presentation below.