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B2B Marketing: Assess the Impact of Social Media in a B2B Setting by Julie Bevacqua
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B2B Marketing: Assess the Impact of Social Media in a B2B Setting by Julie Bevacqua


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A look at the difficulty in creating brand awareness in a B2B setting, and adopting 5 different approaches to assess the impact of social media has in such an environment.

A look at the difficulty in creating brand awareness in a B2B setting, and adopting 5 different approaches to assess the impact of social media has in such an environment.

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  • 1. Let me throw some names at you: DKNY, Justin Bieber, Kellogg, Metallica, and Olay. Take a moment to think of each of them. Chances are, each one will evoke a particular image in your mind, and while all feelings may not be equal, they will resonate positively if you are a fan. Now, think of these words: CME Group, Cisco, Oracle, and Gartner. Hmm, hard to find much emotional appeal in them, right? If your business falls into the B2B category, it is generally considered harder to use social media to create brand awareness (though click on the above four names, and you’ll see they have used twitter fairly successfully to promote their brand). If you’ve read my earlier post on Leveraging Social Media in a B2B setting, you’ll see the tremendous value it can bring to your business, and there’s no company online that can afford to ignore it. Let’s look at some of the ways social media tools may be in your marketing mix:  Websites  Blogs  Videos  Podcasts  Support forums  Emails  Social Networking sites
  • 2.  Direct Mail  Webinars  Sponsorships  Banners and other online marketing etc. In fact in a book called Groundswell, where groundswell is defined as ‘A social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations’, it is quite clear that the way sellers and buyers interact is shifting. And this shift is being quickly adopted in a B2B setting as well. Stands to reason the new marketing mix for any business has to include strategies to align with this new framework. The new social strategy must target buyer needs, not seller dreams. No more does the business buyer sit behind a desk with a stack of manuals or catalogs to browse through. Today’s buyers are fairly socially active and definitely web savvy. One of the most common complaints I’ve heard, is that as a marketer building credibility is extremely difficult. This can be helped by running a strong brand awareness campaign, and to this extent, social networking can play a large role in forwarding your case. As technology moves forward, and is adopted in a business setting, marketers must question the validity of investing huge amounts in often untested waters. While you spend time and money setting up websites and running blog and twitter campaigns, you will need to know your investments carry returns in both the short and long run. The question you need to ask is: How do I assess the impact of social media for my business? Dollars do count and spending it cautiously on campaigns that work is imperative. Recently Forrester Research conducted research and published a report on the impact social media has in a B2B setting, and the results are unanimous – it’s hard to measure the actual value a social media campaign might bring to your table. Other points the report revealed included that most businesses will be unsure how to implement the tools at their disposal; they may get caught up in the whirlwind and forget to focus on their actual target audience; they may carry out half-planned strategies in an urge to ‘go out and get on with it’; and they may not understand how to measure the results delivered. In my earlier post, I outlined how to use social media more effectively for your business. But before you jump in, spend time understanding how twitter, facebook, or LinkedIn would work best for your campaign and your marketing and branding needs. It is equally important to acknowledge that not all these tools you have at your disposal will actually work for you.
  • 3. In order to assess if a campaign will work for you, there are five simple steps that can help: 1. The first is to identify the shifts within and outside your organization, and understand them. Do your employees blog? Is your facebook site gathering ‘likes’ by your intended audience, or dust? Will your supplier or business associate understand what a tweet is and how it can be leveraged to keep in the know? If they do, then it is not so much about controlling who is in charge, but collaborating with these groups to save time and money. 2. Next, fine tune your marketing campaign to harness only those tools that work for you. Each campaign will call for its unique marketing plan and there can be no one size fits all, solution. 3. The most important rule in a B2B setting is to understand the needsof the client and fill these needs accordingly. Plan your marketing strategies away from brand awareness and focus on lead generation, to gain a higher ROI. 4. Outline costs and expected benefitsand determine risks and possible gain. This is one area that should be given priority, but is often second-guessed. Thorough pre-planning and initial research will make final assessments that much easier. 5. All through your campaign, continue to measure activity and engagement. This will allow you to refine and redefine your campaign as needed. Remember that while numbers do count, they are not the be all and end all of your objectives. It’s what the numbers lead up to that is important. So for example, do your higher numbers tally with higher sales? Do your fans who ‘like’ you, also buy from you? The following are some great tools to get measuring with: Google Analytics Omniture HootSuite The key takeaway: Managing social networks isn’t a one-time blitz—so while the startup costs are low, it’s really easy to underestimate the time required to engage with your audience. Figure out what you are trying to accomplish socially, approach it practically and methodically, and your social strategies will pay off. POSTED IN: SOCIAL MARKETING / TAGGED: B2B MARKETING, MARKETING ROI, SOCIAL MEDIA
  • 4. A thought-leader in the technology marketing space, Julie Bevacqua is a leading expert in business-to-business (B2B) marketing with hands-on executive experience in corporate, industry, and product marketing; demand management; and social media. She has held executive positions at global enterprise software companies, heading up integrated marketing strategies from brand differentiation, demand generation, sales and marketing integration, and digital marketing strategies to media and analyst relations and corporate social responsibility. By taking every opportunity to extend the company’s digital footprint, Julie guides her team to achieve online dominance within the global marketplace. A natural networker, motivator and mentor, Julie shares her marketing and business savvy through her blog Business and corporate marketers and entrepreneurs gain unique insights into the latest techniques on digital and social marketing that can be applied in any organization. Julie lives and works in Vancouver, British Columbia, a haven for technology and enterprising upstarts, dubbed ‘Silicon North’. Reach Julie Bevacqua at: LinkedIn: Find Julie on LinkedIn Twitter: Follow Julie on Twitter Google+: Add Julie on Google Plus Blog: Visit Julie’sBlog