Sure there are millions using Facebook, and perhaps it might help your business, but just because other companies are jumping into the Facebook section of the social media swimming pool, does not mean you should.
Before any business jumps blindly into the social media “swimming pool” the business should conduct research in finding our exactly what buyers for the company’s solutions used to solve their business problems and also determine the business reasons for implementing a social media marketing plan as part of their overall marketing strategy.
Social media marketing is not a silver bullet solution that will quickly provide rapid ROI, it can, but generally for a B2B company it takes “time” to realize results and “time” is a big factor when considering a social media marketing program.
Here are the Top 3 “First Steps” that I recommend in helping a business navigate into Social Media Marketing:
- Research your Buyers/Prospects. Note I said buyers and or prospects as simply asking your current customers will yield some information, but they already know you and how to find you. You need to find out what are the pain points and business problems buyers/prospects are trying to solve. Then as part of the research also find out how they go about solving the problems facing them. This will help you find the right tools to use to reach them. You may find that Facebook is the right place, but then again you may find while your prospects use Facebook, they do not use it to solve business problems.
- Define what your goals are for implementing social media marketing? How will it fit into the overall marketing plan that includes traditional media – typically used for brand awareness – and new media – which is conversationally based. Like part of any marketing plan, you really need to know where you want to go and establish milestones along the way to measure the effectiveness. Do your goals include: increased brand awareness, lead generation, improving customer service, enhancing thought leadership, search engine optimization…
- Determine what resources will be used to support your social media marketing program. Too many times, business still think they can hire a college intern to handle their social media program. After all, “those kids really know social media.” That may be true, but do they really know your company and industry? Social media is a conversation between your company and the marketplace. Not like traditional marketing which is a “one-to-many” monologue, social media is a “many-to-many” dialog so it takes a team of people to get involved in the conversations that take place in social media channels. The team consists of several players from management, marketing, sales and customer service. Remember when I said “time” was an important factor when implementing social media. Time from your team will be required, but the time invested in social media marketing will yield results.
Sure there are more steps, but these are important first steps in developing and implementing a social media marketing plan. You may need some help conducting the research, setting up internal guidelines, developing the social media channels, or assigning the “A” team to various tasks. You will find that engaging a marketer with knowledge and passion for social media your best and most efficient method of getting into the social media “pool.” Some traditional agencies have become savvy into things social, but you need to remember that their business model has been and continues to be based on retainers, and media discount revenue. That is a an “elixir” that is a hard habit to break. I see agencies say, “Of course we can help you with social media” but then I suggest you look at how they are using social media for their business. You might find that they don’t “walk the talk” themselves.
There is no doubt that Social Media has created a whole new discipline in marketing. The dynamics for marketing your business have changed as the consumer for your company’s solutions has taken more control over how they wish to receive messaging and solve their business problems.
If you are a B2B company and are using Facebook for marketing, let me know if you think it has helped your company meet its marketing goals and what those goals are.