Recently, we’ve had conversations with business owners concerned they could be missing out by not entering the social media universe with guns blazing. Should we carry on with what’s working now or, move away and embrace the shiny new shoes of social media?
We are not being helped in our decision-making process neither by the social media hype merchants – the ones that are telling us if we are still using direct mail and, writing press releases well frankly we are laggards.
Thankfully there are a number of reputable sages (including Seth Godin and Drayton Bird) joining the debate with a hefty dose of much-needed expert commonsense.
Let’s look at this through an objective lens.
Yes, social media is breathtaking. Businesses can reach out in seconds and touch customers and prospects with a richer, more frequent and informal dialogue. Provided the etiquette of social media is followed namely, ‘don’t sell to me, don’t broadcast to me, engage with me; build a relationship where we both benefit’ the relationships between buyer and seller can be enhanced.
However, in the business to business sector, it’s not quite so straightforward. We may be able to reach some of our audience through social media, provided they decide to find us and stick with us that is, but we are highly unlikely to reach all of them, in the right quantities and at the right time and to get them in the mood to talk business with us when we do find them. It’s a long haul exercise where any hope of an imminent quick win has to be abandoned in favour of a long-term relationship building process.
If traditional marketing is the cake, social media is the big fat cherry on top. By way of example, face-to-face networking is a traditional marketing channel that is often crucial in building trust. Are we going to jettison face-to-face networking in favour of clattering on a keyboard all day long pushing out a stream of messages in the hope that our followers, ‘likers’ and fans are poised to receive them? It’s unlikely, but we may be able to advance that potential relationship further by hooking up with our prospect on their preferred social networking site after that initial meeting.