I just read an interesting post by Amy Porterfield on the Social Media Examiner blog. Her post, Most Marketers Not Profiting From Social Media, doesn't surprise me in the least. Social media is such a different animal from any other marketing media that I think it's going to take quite a while for people and companies to figure this thing out.
As you've probably guessed, I'm a bit of an early adopter. I'm usually pretty early to the party when it comes to trying new marketing tools. I've had my web site since 1995 and did one of the World Wide Web's first online seminars sponsored by CompuServe. I started using and experimenting with social media before we even had a word for it.
Of course, I'm blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking, LinkedIn'ing, and YouTubing. But, to be frank, I still feel like I'm trying to figure this whole thing out. I don't think anything is obvious yet about monetizing social media and I'm really interested in hearing about any of your success stories.
Are you actually generating new business via social media? If yes, how are you doing it? Are you using it to maintain current relationships via social media conversations?
How active are your customers and prospects? Do they fully embrace social media?
Let's start a conversation here.
Like you, I think social media is in its infancy. It will take some time for all of us to figure it out and capitalize on its various strengths. What I am hearing is that it is much easier for consumer businesses rather than B2B to integrate into their marketing mix. B2B consumers just are not thinking this is an avenue for business yet. In my experience, B2B typically shows up late to the game.
Has anyone had any luck in the B2B arena?
A good friend of mine began her own PR agency 18 months ago. In that time, she has become very active on Twitter. She uses Hootsuite to schedule tweets regularly throughout the day, and makes a point to engage with people on there. She has found many clients via the service. She has also developed a very successful blog and been presented with an entrepreneur of the year award to boot. I think if you dedicate the right amount of time to these areas, you really can see results.
However, I also think it depends what field you’re in. The industrial sector is active, but trailing slightly. I think the question we all have to ask is where are the people with similar interests to us on the web? Where are they contributing, engaging, etc.? If we can go there and add something of value instead of simply pushing our services, so much the better.
That’s a very good point, Scott. I’ve also observed that if you have a local or regional focus that tools, like Twitter, can have a good impact. So far, B2C seems to be winning.
I agree that social media is a bit of a mystery for B2B marketers– Do people really want to mix personal social media with work? I can see the value of (and we use) twitter as a way to communicate company news and information outside of a normal “e-newsletter” cycle. Youtube is also of some value, especially if you are using it to show mini product demos (provided they are reasonably well done). Of all of them, Facebook seems to me to be the least well matched with the B2B marketplace, as much of what happens there is either duplicative of what is on a website, or requires near-real-time interaction with the users, something that most B2B folks aren’t inclined to keep up with– and there’s nothing worse than offering your customers a place to publicly comment and letting the conversation be entirely one-sided.
We have had a long-standing customer interaction platform in the form of our user forum for our software users. (PCDMISForum.com) This has been very successful since we started it over 8 years ago. (there are 80 users online at the forum as I type this) I believe one of the reasons for this is that the entire platform is centered around a shared interest (the software) that the users work with every day. Over the years, we have added features to build the “community” such as an off-topic forum for the users to comment on anything that they wish. The latest iteration of the forum platform we use now has a lot of social-media type features such as blogs, “friending”, photo sharing, groups, and so on. What I find interesting is to see the forum users struggling a bit to understand some of the new capabilities, which confirms to me that our typical users do not tend to be “facebookers”.
I think there’s a basic problem in trying to make money through social media. It’s like charging your friends for work. Social media is about connecting on a personal level and having a conversation. Once you ask for the sale, the relationship can change into a transactional one and seem less personal.
The trick is to keep the conversation going even after you get paid. You need a positive, human-centric message. Sure, we just had a business transaction, but I like talking to you and you are more to me than just another sale. If you never buy from me again, that’s okay. Let’s keep talking because we have something in common.
I have gotten work for my photography business off social media sites. I am not lighting cigars with $100 bills yet but I have more money in my pocket than I used to.
I have not seen much B2B action in this space but there is a bit. B2B is always behind the curve because pricing can vary so much. As a consumer, I don’t mind buying an aquarium pump for $20 online but as a retailer, I want something significantly better than that for my order of 1000 pumps. That requires a bit of haggling and real-time conversation. You can’t do that so well via social media and all its lolz and roflmao.
But it’s coming. It’s just not there yet.
Just one guy’s two cents.
Social media is just one tool in the toolbox. Sometimes, when newbies are starting out that is hard to remember. Especially, when one starts counting followers and hits.
I do believe it is an essential part of any (B2B or B2C) marketing plan.
It all comes down to what kind of goals you have that you would like to accomplish.
My goals for my social media efforts as a custom picture framing retailer are to create awareness about our industry and create a need by sharing the benefits of my products and of course relationship building.
[Like I’m doing now by commenting on this blog post. Hi Steve! Don’t you want to get something framed now? ;)]
I’m not lighting cigars with $100 bills yet either Carl but I personally have seen business from my efforts and also gained local and national media exposure for my company, not to mention all the great people I have met through the process, so it gets a thumbs up from me.
Keep up the good work and we all will learn more together as SM continues to evolve!
Well, I met you via Twitter. 🙂
The way I see social media is just another way to go out there and meet new interesting people. And sometimes that leads to new clients and new opportunities.
My GM Ralph Vines forwarded me this email to answer, we utilize social media under a created management concept call ASNM (Automotive Social Networking Management)…..we have discovered that utilizing the Google tools (Google base, YouTube, Wave, BUZZ and Blogger) along with our current websites and CRM we are able to monitor the behavior of our guest across the Internet. ASNM is somewhat of a created science that strategically places links within websites, social post and emails that create a Systematic Concept of duplication, where our online guest are driven by clicks, content and persuasion back to one of our many website and/or hot sites….Google allows us the ability to see, record and track the online activity from our Social sites, back to our websites…which turn into leads and have decreased our investment in third party leads and has eliminated third party SEO/SEM investments