Let’s Put Social Media in Its “Place”…Remember that it cannot “Replace” Sales

At a recent business networking event, an excited senior executive was telling me all about his B2B organization’s brand new social media marketing strategy. I was curious to know what kind of results the company is expecting to see. With much enthusiasm and palpable optimism, the executive told me they were planning to increase market share by 20% over the last year. Not a bad target I thought, although I did not ask for details on numbers.

Yet, when I probed further to ask what other sales and marketing initiatives were being put in place to achieve that goal the answer shocked, but did not surprise me. He told me how their sales and profits had dropped over the last year and that they had lost significant market share. To counter that, the company has downsized their sales team considerably and is going full steam ahead with social media. And all this to regain the lost market share from last year! I could not help think how immature and short-sighted this approach is. To actually believe that social media can “replace” the flesh and blood and mind of sales people! Seriously, I think it’s time someone put social media in its place.

Yes, I do believe it has its place and quite an important one too—right in the middle of an integrated approach where sales and marketing are united under one umbrella and traditional B2B lead generation methods are used along with newer, more nimble processes. Here’s what I think social media for B2B can and should be:

  • Social media needs to be a measurable tool that delivers return on investment. And I’m not just talking about the hard dollars; we know that social media can be quite inexpensive to run, but it takes time to do it correctly. Time is money.
  • Social media is about relationship marketing, engagement strategies and thought leadership.
  • Yes, it can increase visibility for your B2B brand marketing efforts.
  • It reinforces the positive relationships your customers have with your company.
  • Social media also encourages greater interaction and involvement between your various stakeholders and you.
  • BUT, and I say this as strongly as I have said in previous posts, the truth of the matter is, we are yet to find the “secret sauce” that will help B2B marketers monetize and measure their social media initiatives.

Over the next few posts, I’d like to do a deep dive into some of the leading social media channels and see what place they have in B2B lead generation. If you have some success stories, positive and negative experiences with social media for your B2B company, please feel free to share them on my blog. Let’s discuss!