Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Review: "Social Marketing to the Business Customer"

The last time I did a book review was probably in the 7th grade, so don't expect much from this effort.

"Social Marketing to the Business Customer" [1] is a timely book focused on how to use all the available social media - blogs, Facebook, Twitter, help with marketing you business. I say timely, because there certainly is a need for this. We've all seen way to many efforts by businesses [2] that fell flat. I also say timely as a pun, because given the rapid pace of change in social media, many parts of the book are already obsolete. Google+ for instance, has arrived on the scene. While in a sense this changes some of the technical details, in other ways, the overall message of the book doesn't. If you understand that message, incorporating Google+ and whatever else is yet to come will not be a problem.

As for what that overall message is, here are several themes that I found repeated over and over:
  • The website is king. Everything you are doing should be aimed at getting people to your website, regardless of how popular Twitter, Facebook, etc. are. The website is where you can completely control your message and where you can convert prospects to customers
  • Getting results will take lots of
    • time
    • energy, and
    • courage, yes courage
  • Nobody has this whole Web 2.0 figured out yet. It is one of the greatest open-ended experiments of all time, so you have to learn as you go, and at the same time, copy the success of others
  • You will fail if you are too "corporate"

The first point doesn't need much further comment, and it is one of those things that is rather obvious when you think about it. But with this frame of mind, you can then see that just setting up a Twitter feed with canned messages once a day isn't going to cut it. Why would anyone follow that? How does that drive anyone to your website or do business with you?

As for the second point, I know from experience with this blog that it takes a long time to build a following, and seeing the sitecounter show extremely small numbers forever-and-a-day is quite discouraging. Granted, polymers isn't as controversial a topic as politics, but still, there are hundreds of thousands of people around the world working with polymers, so the fact that I am only getting a 500 visitors a week shows that I still have a long way to go. The mention of "courage" is important, because you will see plenty of failures along the way, and you need to face up to it. You and your corporation also need courage because the legal department will be very leery of your efforts - the messages going out are not controlled, whitewashed and cleared by every committee available.

I can also expand on the last point, as that is a variation of what I just mentioned: if you let the legal/marketing communications/sales/... departments preapprove everything, you will come across as very "corporate" and fail. As is said in the book, people want to interact with a company, not a brand. One of my favorite examples is what that megacorporation, IBM, does with its employees and blogging - aggregates links to them on a corporate page. This clearly lets you see that the blogs are not the corporate message, but it also humanizes the corporation by letting you see the thoughts of individuals working there.

While the focus is on B2B, the same ideas can be applied to anyone wanting to drive visitors to their website, or in my case, this blog, which is basically my website.

[1] The book was provided to me courtesy of the Don Loepp of the PlasticsNews blog. Thanks, Don.

[2] Want proof? Look at what my employer attempted on Twitter.


SEO reseller said...

In the rapid web 2.0 developments, you need to keep up with the trends.

Anonymous said...

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John said...

SEO Reseller,

While the trends are important, the basics are changing slowly if at all. The aim is still to drive people to the website, and SEO this, that and the other thing will come and go over time.

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I think that the true benefit of social marketing comes when you regularly update your social media profiles and engage with your customers through social media. b2b marketing solutions

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