B-to-B Marketers Slowly Adopting Social Media, Part 2
In part 2 of our three-part series on how B-to-B marketers can effectively integrate social media tools into their marketing plans, we outline a four-step method to help B-to-B companies create the most effective social media strategy. (For part 1, where we discuss what B-to-B marketers are doing wrong when it comes to social media, click here.)
Be sure to check back next week for the final installment of the series, which will provide takeaway tips B-to-B companies can use to determine how Web 2.0 can be a part of their 2009 marketing plans.
For social media to work as a marketing tool, business marketers need to put their customers first in all decisions, the whitepaper advises.
Here's a four-step system to follow when building a social media strategy:
1. Understand buyers' social behaviors. Buyer behaviors and tendencies to engage vary across industries and geographies, the whitepaper notes. Therefore, B-to-B marketers should start with a model and comparative data and then create processes that build on customer profiles over time. Build a marketing-specific database to track buyer social behavior — among other explicit and implicit criteria — to help qualify buyer readiness to purchase.
2. Set objectives based on audience. B-to-B companies setting social strategies should have six objectives to connect, and ultimately change, their relationships with customers:
* listening — idea generation, prioritize feature delivery, concept testing, solicit feedback;
* talking — increase event attendance, demand generation, key opinion leaders;
* energizing — customer testimonials, reference programs;
* spreading — negotiating agreements and service levels, best practices, getting-started guides, customizing implementation or processes;
* supporting — peer-to-peer support, discussion forums, how-to roundtables, webinars, virtual conferences; and
* embracing — online training and certification, community-based networking, codevelopment.
B-to-B social strategies can help vendors spread their influence and relationships inside customer accounts, the whitepaper says.
3. Align strategy to audience and objectives. Once you know what social media marketing should accomplish, the next step is to describe how it will facilitate new relationships with customers. Identify the assets and resources needed to sustain relationships; anticipate any barriers or impediments; and, most importantly, determine how to measure the impact of relationship changes, the whitepaper says. If the primary objective is to talk with customers, measure awareness, impressions or online buzz resulting from social activity. On the other hand, if the goal is to foster mutual support, then look for declines in customer call-center or support costs stemming from shifts in social activity.
4. Pick technology last. Understanding target audience profiles lets marketers know which technologies they will adopt and at what rate. Aligning objectives and strategy against profiles puts marketers in the best position to evaluate which technologies matter most in the marketing mix. For example, Hewlett-Packard built relationships with tech-savvy buyers when it created and syndicated podcast interviews from HP consultants who share key tips from their day-to-day operations. By focusing on relationships, not technologies, B-to-B marketers can avoid turning social tactics into outbound marketing tools, the whitepaper notes.