Social media is exploding in popularity. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and others have received more press, hype, and traffic than most would have imagined. When viewed as friend-to-friend communication tools, it’s fairly obvious why these sites are thriving (yeah, even Twitter and its 140 characters). But from a B2B marketing perspective, what can you expect from social media marketing? Our webinar last week spoke more in depth about this, but at a high level, when properly implemented, there are three items social media marketing can accomplish for you, but there are also three things it cannot:
Three things social media marketing can do:
Create traffic for your site
- – Regularly creating new content on your website through tools like blogs, forums, and wikis provides a boost to your organic site traffic. That is, if your content is interesting, entertaining, or thought provoking. Using other social media tools to syndicate your original content aids in traffic creation.
Facilitate customer and prospect interaction – There’s a fair chance your company has been already mentioned somewhere in the social media realm. You should listen to what’s being said. Listen, then, if the opportunity presents itself, use this as a catalyst to initiate interaction with you customers and prospects. But don’t get too sales focused—honest, open interactions will benefit you much more.
Search engine optimization – Building inbound links and fresh content on blogs, wikis, and forums certainly aids in your search engine optimization efforts.
Three things social media marketing will not do:
Advertise for free
- – Go ahead and try this out. Sometimes you’ll get banned, sometimes not. But you will be ignored, a much worse fate. Valuable, fresh content is an absolute necessity.
Control your brand – This can be tough for marketers, but to succeed in social media marketing, you’re going to have to release your grip on tailored messaging and “branding” (remember, real branding exists only in the minds of your clients, anyway), and let it flow. Being too corporate-y in the social media world is readily transparent, and no one will care about your information as a result.
Provide a short-term ROI – With social media marketing, you must think long term, and properly manage internal expectations to synchronize with this. Social media marketing is a large organizational investment, and needs to be treated as such. For the short term, generating more traffic, increasing mind share, and other soft metrics will have to suffice in place of a hard ROI.
Above all, before committing to a social media marketing strategy, make sure your house is in order. Make sure your website is properly developed and crawlable (W3C can help here), make sure your site is search engine optimized, and make sure your pages (including landing pages), are set up for optimal conversion. These items are of a much higher priority than social media marketing due to their more immediate benefit and thus higher ROI. A social media marketing strategy should only be pursued when these items are working in an optimal manner for you.