According to a recent article in Ad Age, we’re all (well, most) (well, some) (well a little under 60% of us) are increasing our social spend this year. And that, says Ad Age, means it’s time for those who sell social to put away their SXSW glow sticks, slap on some shoes and get moving.
For those of us on the spending side of things, that means a lot more strange voice mail messages and LinkedIn Stalkers. For our agencies it’s just another damn thing they have to hire more Millennials to sort out.
So what is a B2B marketer to do? Your boss is saying helpful things like, “who the hell sells anything on Facebook?” or “what’s our Twitter strategy?” The Hand-Wringers retreated to their Safe Room with a good book and some tequila months ago when sales started Tweeting, and somewhere in the back of your mind is the horrifying thought that it all needs to be measured.
Gentle B2B friends, the social media are (I can’t decide if this is a plural or not so I’m using both randomly) not some invading species; they’re more like an ant farm we’ve been watching for years that someone has now helpfully tipped-over (the kind with nice ants we don’t torture with magnifying glasses). Knowing this, we need only get a few things prepared ahead of the Visigoths who are going to try to make a buck off the whole thing.
See social for what it is
The social media, like their more traditional friends, are tactics. They don’t need a strategy of their own; they just need a clear role to play in your overall strategy. So stop letting your agency talk you into a social media strategy that involves marketing and insist instead on a marketing strategy that involves social media.
Drink the lighter fluid
While social has much in common with other tactics, we need to remember that unlike other media, the social ones can act as an accelerant to other marketing activities. And like most accelerants, it’s our friend except when the wind changes and suddenly it isn’t.
What this means is that your products and services still need to be sold through your usual channels, but a social element may make the sales cycle shorter. It also means that while you will piss off your customers at the usual rate, everyone will know about it much, much sooner.
Plan for mid-air collisions
Shocking as this may seem, you’re not the only ones in your company trying to decide what the heck is up with Pinterest. Guess who is probably all over social? That’s right, it’s your Customer Abuse department. They’ve probably been hanging around on Facebook and Twitter for years dealing with the Porcupines.
Whether you like it or not, your sales team has probably also been using social channels to find and communicate with customers and prospects. In a large company, so has your PR department, your product management department, your HR team and, heaven help you, your CEO. Did you really think they would wait for you?
So now you have to put on your grown-up clothes and sit down and map out the places and touch points where marketing and the others overlap in social. If you still have ownership issues about social media, now is a great time to figure them out, because if you don’t, everyone will find out very, very quickly that dysfunction can be accelerated too.
Get over the numbers
I’m just fascinated by the ongoing obsession about how to measure social media. I’m equally fascinated by the extent to which we turn ourselves inside out to apply old media metrics to something that is utterly different. Retweets are just like, well, retweets. I don’t know what else you call them. I don’t know how you assign them a value. I don’t even know if they have a value. If people are angry enough, they likely have a negative value.
What should we measure for blogs? Readership? CTR? Comments? What does any of that prove? For my money, they’re lead sources and need to be tagged thus in a funnel management tool. It’s fair to say that very few B2B sales happen exclusively in a social media arena, but there are plenty that probably fall apart there. Perhaps we need a negative score card like they use for baseball pitchers. New platforms need new metrics, not new headstands.
Here come the Crazies, and they brought friends
What’s your collective strategy to deal with that dreaded trinity of cyber space: The Desperate, The Crazy and The Dangerous? Who responds to the customer you’ve driven beyond the brink of their sanity? Who takes down the people who think your company owns Area 51? What’s the plan when your product strategy is published on some industry blog weeks before it’s even approved? This stuff happens all the time and you need to make sure someone else is all over it.
Crowdsourcing? Just say no
Crowdsourcing is for the perfect and the obscure. The rest of us should stay well clear. Here is why.
Bizmarketer is Elizabeth Williams
Follow me on Twitter @bizmkter
or email firstname.lastname@example.org