Social Media for B2B and B2C—A Carnival of Grasshoppers?

Louis Foong 0

Many years ago I watched a TV show called Kung Fu where the blind Kung Fu master calls his young student a “grasshopper” as a term of endearment for one who still has a lot to learn. A quick Google search led me to a scene I remember and I’d like to share it with you.

Take a look—

Now I’m not claiming to be like Master Po—mainly because I am neither blind nor old! 🙂

But I was struck at the time by the old man who could see and hear things that others (including the young “grasshopper” boy) could not.

My reason for bringing this up here on my blog is because I see a lot of grasshoppers around. Especially when it comes to social media marketing and social networking, this space is teeming with grasshoppers that literally hop from one leaf or grassy patch to another with no specific destination in mind. Yes, they do pick up food as they go along but nothing for the long-term, nothing sustainable. That’s what bothers me when I see organizations spend time and energy and valuable resources on social platforms and technologies; what do they have to show at the end of it all? Are they quantifiable results? Is there a sizeable return on investment?

Social Media for B2B?Econsultancy recently carried this list of 25 B2B social media case studies: http://econsultancy.com/us/blog/8148-25-business-tastic-b2b-social-media-case-studies. Interesting no doubt, but these are all large corporations. How can small and medium sized companies learn from this? What can they apply or learn? How can we bring this down to a human or medium sized scale?

 

EMarketer has some recent statistics gathered by Accenture; see the chart below:

state-of-digital-marketing-report

Click for larger image. Source: http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1008672

In the above study, B2B marketers said that having access to more technology, tools, metrics and collaboration will help strengthen their social media programs. Really? I don’t see how. On the contrary, I’m of the strong opinion that the heavier the reliance on technology, the lesser will be the engagement rates. The absence of a human component that can leverage technology will just lead to many more touch points being added to the fray but they won’t be relationships and they certainly won’t be quality leads. So if the purpose of social media marketing and social networking is to increase engagement and thereby leads, conversion and sales, then focusing solely on technology will lead companies to miss the boat…they will remain grasshoppers!

By no means am I saying that social media doesn’t work. Absolutely, I am sure it does. But there is a huge difference in application, tracking mechanisms and result measurement when you compare B2B vs B2C. Simply because the demand generation process, lead conversion mechanisms and sales cycle itself is so different in these 2 markets.

I won’t dwell on B2C but here are my thoughts on what needs to happen in the B2B space:

  • B2B marketers need to walk the walk. They need inbound conversion mechanisms and tracking tools and techniques. That is the only way to be able to measure effectiveness of social media.
  • I’d like to Red Flag this fact—technology that requires complex structural play only delays implementation and therefore, results. Companies not only invest heavily in acquiring new technology but then have to bring in high-paid consultants to help them understand the technology and make it applicable / adaptable to their business. So simply having a bigger technology powerhouse won’t deliver results and in fact, will further decrease the return on a bigger investment.
  • B2B organizations need a comparison engine that will capture web visitors beyond just their IP addresses. They need a clever combination of outbound and inbound campaigns that will work cohesively and deliver results.
  • B2B companies must get rid of, as in literally demolish the various silos they exist in where each one is struggling to protect their turf. Let cross-trading happen, let resources be shared, let ideas and thoughts and innovation flow freely!
  • Last but not the least, and I can’t emphasize this enough, there needs to be agreement or consensus between departments. The analysis-paralysis syndrome has to go, and soon!

What is your experience so far with social media in the B2B space? I would like to hear about it on my blog. Leave me a comment.

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