Social? Follow your market

Do people really want to know about your cat? Only if you sell Caterpillar products. The same is true of any technical marketing communications done through that rabbit-like species called social networks. You should only put marketing resource in communications that provide a measurable ROI, right? Well, it may easy to track how many people follow, like and retweet you, but do these actions count as some sort of “conversion,” itself a loosely used term unless you define it as turning a lead into a sale. (Didn’t we used to call that “closing”?)

Still, even brick-and-mortar businesses have come realize that they must “be digital or die.” It’s the where and how of it that is still a puzzle to most businesses and nowhere more so than for B2B technology companies. If you’re selling a web security solution to corporations, are people in your target market looking for that on Twitter or Facebook? I don’t think so. IBM has over 57,000 followers on Twitter, but Samsung Mobile has a whisker under 4 million. I don’t need to tell you why that is.

On the other hand, so-called “thought leaders” (yesterday’s opinion shapers) do have followings on Twitter, and a mention of your new technology can build awareness and drive people into your pipeline, just as a favorable article in The Wall Street Journal is a good as gold. Let’s forget, too, that your customers are your best marketing assets. Where do they hang out? In other words, you do need to have a presence on social media, but it should be bespoke, not off-the-rack.

Social media also impact brand awareness and the value of your brand. No, brand is not something that shows up as an asset on a corporate balance sheet, but brand has value. The “buzz” about your brand will, like it or not, be shared on social networks.

There is fairly simple way of using your CRM to find out what social networks are important to you. Just take your top 100 prospects/leads put them in a Gmail account and let a each social network do your searching for you. Locales such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook give you the option of comparing your contact list in Gmail with network members. Run those searches and see which networks come up with the most hits. Then do some digging about how each of those top 100 prospects use the network. If they are using one for personal contacts, don’t’ aim marketing communications at them there. But wherever they are using a network for business purposes, you’ve hit pay dirt.

Then follow the basics of good marketing communications: Open a dialog;  speak to your audiences needs and problems; offer solutions—repeat. The form of your marketing communications will take a different form according the “rules” set out by the social network. Twitter is the most obvious example: You need to communicate your message in 140 characters. Most often these should include a Bitmark that links to a relevant, more extensive communication that is of interest to your target market.

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