By Dave Stevens
The traditionally more sober B2B marketing profession must be obsessed with social media if its suppliers are to be believed. B2B marketers can’t move right now for events, webinars, white papers, books, articles, and yes even social media on the subject.
I went along to just such an event earlier today. The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) announced the latest findings from its social media bench-marking survey (http://live.smbenchmark.com/) in a presentation at the swanky Bloomberg offices near Liverpool Street.
The findings made an interesting read. For once, the data took into account B2B organisations as much as B2C ones (not a common allowance from the CIM so a well done to them) and it found that while B2C organisations were social networking because their customers were, for B2B organisations the reasons to go social were not so apparent. Most B2B organisations claimed to be in social media to experiment. Quite simply, the B2Bs were there because they saw their B2C counterparts going social and felt they should compete or were being pressured into social because of the aforementioned media hustle.
So my message to B2B marketers is to chill out. You’re doing the right thing to experiment with social media because it’s really not apparent to anyone yet how this is going to play in the B2B marketing mix of the future. (And by the way social will certainly only ever be part of a mix of channels available – never the one and only).
I suspect that the key for B2B will lie in the integration of social media with live marketing activities such as events. It was interesting to see how many of the audience at today’s CIM event sat with mobiles and tablets on their laps and paid more attention to their Twitter feeds than to the presenters (who were great by the way).
But for now the jury’s out on the value of social media as a marketing tool in the B2B space. So B2B marketers can take a bit more time to work this through.
Take a deep breath and relax…