Social media has infiltrated every aspect of our lives. Although it retains its primary function as a platform where mates can get together and talk about their likes and dislikes, it is also a brand-infested pool of self promotion and general product marketing. But how are brands and businesses failing to engage with one another?
1. Failing to understand where they are in the B2B buying cycle
When a brand is looking for a product or service, it has to go through various channels and different people within the organization are involved in making the purchasing decision.
I will illustrate this point with a hypothetical example: a PA is told by the company’s Financial Manager (FM) to go and look for a new piece of Payroll software that services their company. The FM instructs the PA to ensure that the software is cost-effective. The PA then hops on to LinkedIn to see what people are saying in groups and forums about Payroll software. A few are shortlisted and they make it back to the FM. The FM now digs a little deeper and begins to engage with each company through their social channels. Should these social channels only be concerned with pushing product and selling the benefits of the software, the FM is going to move on.
Essentially this translates as: the wrong message goes to the wrong person at the wrong time. If you are speaking to the economic buyer within your target and you are pushing the technical specs of a product down their throats, they are not going to hear what their minds are intrinsically looking for. They will not see the value relevant to their need and will ultimately move to your competitor.
2. Trying to push product too much
Social media is not as much about hard selling as it is about adding value. Again, where does the channel sit in the decision making process? It is part of the information gathering stage.
It is where decisions are influenced, not necessarily made. Businesses are placing too much emphasis on pushing their product to close a deal rather than to add value to the community. There is a fine line that B2B social media needs to walk and that is between marketing and customer service. Brands need to understand what their audience is looking for and then speak that language.
3. Their social media is being handled by an agency
There are loads of marketing agencies who are running the conversation between both brands and customers online. I personally feel that this is a recipe for disaster.
Let’s imagine that the social media accounts of two brands engaging with each other are being run by agencies. Each agency will have been mandated by their employer brand to engage in conversation and to push products. This is going to turn into a conversation that goes nowhere and ultimately adds no value to either brand or potential customers listening in to the conversation.
This is not to say that there are no agencies that can run social media accounts for their clients. By and large, however, the agency does not have as crystal a view of the brand’s inner personality and values as an employee who lives within the brand each and every day.
4. The wrong metrics are being measured and tracked
There is still a lot of work to be done around understanding the true value of social media. There is a lot of emphasis being placed around “likes” on Facebook and followers on Twitter, but where is the true value in that? Similarly, the value of a conversation is difficult to gauge and place a value on. Brands and the industry at large need to learn to understand that a new set of metrics need to be invented to properly quantify the value of socially engaging with other brands online.
5. Lack of engagement strategy
There needs to be a purpose to why your business is engaging in social media with your potential clients. There needs to be a clear and very defined path that you walk your potential clients through when they engage with you and this is where a lot of brands have not grasped social media.
The funnel of old has completely changed. It is no longer as cut and dried as it once was. There are now multiple paths in influencers that can affect the movement of a potential customer through the funnel as the image from Forrester Research Incorporated shows.
Brands talking to other brands, and brands talking to consumers need to embrace this changing dynamic. By doing so and trying to plan for and understand its inherent complexities — brands will set themselves apart from their competitors and engage with their audience on the level and in the manner in which they want to be engaged.
Author | Jonathan Houston
Jonathan Houston is passionate about digital marketing and digital strategy. During the day, Jonathan is the Head of Digital Marketing for HKLM. Jonathan's work at HKLM includes strategy conceptualization, focusing on the alignment of digital marketing to business strategy as well as assisting HKLM's clients on fulfilling their digital... More