Is It Time To Rethink Social Media?

This paragraph, in a solicitation email from Sherpa where they are trying to sell their 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report, caught my attention:

 

According to new research culled from 1,745 surveyed marketers, even the most effective B2B marketing tactics – such as website design, SEO and email marketing – saw up to 50% decline in overall effectiveness from the previous year. This alarming statistic, along with a growing list of pertinent challenges, is just more evidence that organizations must adapt to meet new buyer expectations in these tough economic times. 

To me, this reinforces the antidotal evidence that I have been receiving relating to “social media fatigue” “unproven results” and “inability to link social media actions to leads/sales.”  (See my prior post: https://firealarmmarketing.com/2011/09/20/expections-of-social-media/). 

Sitting through recent events at FutureM and MIT Enterprise Forum I was overwhelmed by “social media experts” who could talk on and on about how they successfully built brand and awareness, but could not translate this activity into basic business terminology, i.e., we did this and it drove X% incremental revenue.  I also find it interesting that the same old tired examples are trotted out (Dell, Zappos, etc.)…where are the new 2010/2011 success stores for social media?

Assuming a best-case scenario of a flat economy thru 2012, financial winners will be those that have significant market share and can exploit it (sell up, sell new features/functions) and those that provide differentiated products with significant customer service.

While word-of-mouth works well for consumer products, as the complexity and acquisition costs of a product/service increases in a B2B environment, other factors beyond a high Yelp score or backing by an influential blogger are required to close a sale.  In many B2B cases this requires establishing personal relationship with the buyer (something beyond tele-sales), extended Beta testing, and strong referrals from like-minded customers who have the product installed.

Perhaps we have gone too far with the social media frenzy and need to go back to some fundamentals.  I recognize monitoring what is being said about you and your products is a requirement, and that blogging and interfacing on community groups is essential to obtaining brand awareness and thought leadership.  These activities help, perhaps more than a cheap give away at a trade show or T-shirt, but they are no replacement for face-to-face contact that explains how your product is significantly different, coupled with a free beta test, backed up by strong customer testimonials.

Your thoughts?

9/28/2011 

2 comments to Is It Time To Rethink Social Media?

  • Bob Sullebarger

    Interesting. It has struck me how in the B2B world there is no real equivalent use of ratings and reviews on the social web like we have in the consumer world. It'd be interesting to understand why this is the case.

  • Robert Mannal

    Bob, Agree. Some non-vendor people tried a few years ago to set up a web site that encouraged vendor ranking in the security field, similar to Yelp, but I don’t think it got off the ground. Depending upon Gartner and others is one way to start, but not a replacement for actual experience from like-minded users.

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