4 things B2B marketers get wrong on the social web

b2b marketing

People have turned to the social web in their droves to market themselves and their companies. The very medium that people are using to connect and sell their services also provides all the information, advice, guidance and tips needed to do this properly. Even though this information is readily available online, people still resort to tactics that do not work. Here are the top 4 things I have identified.

I invite you to interact with me on LinkedIn and Twitter  

1.      No research conducted

If you plan to use the social web  to engage and interact with new and existing clients, spend time finding out where they are first. All too often companies use platforms that are not frequented by their target clients. Conduct surveys or acquire research to identify their platforms of preference. You should also consider influencers and brand advocates. Even though your clients may not use a particular platform, people who influence them may do so.

2.      Too much selling and no interaction

According to Wikipedia, “social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks”. If you look at this definition, the word “selling” does not feature, but the words “create”, “share” and “exchange of information” are mentioned. Wikipedia defines marketing as “the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers, for the PURPOSE of selling the product or service”. The first definition does not mention selling and the second definition mentions selling as a by-product, so if companies practiced “social media marketing” properly, information relating to their product, goods or service will be shared amongst their social media communities, and in time, their clients will make a “buying decision”.

3.      Too much focus on quantity and not enough on quality

Whatever platform you are participating on, concentrate on the quality of the conversations and interaction rather than the number of subscribers, connections, followers, friends, shares, likes and retweets. The other consideration is the quality of the people you are interacting with. Are they potential or existing clients, influencers and advocates? If you are having quality interaction with the quality people, the quantity will come of its own accord.

4.      Too much attention on yourself

The biggest mistake companies make is to initiate engagement by talking about themselves and their products, services and solutions. Take the time to understand the markets and industries you work in and their challenges and talk more about that instead. Anything relating to your company and what you do should always be secondary. If you create, share and interact around relevant content, the propensity for your communities to interact will increase substantially.

To summarise, find out where your clients are first, communicate with them on their platforms of process, understand the definition of social media marketing and develop your strategy accordingly and talk to your clients about their industries and business challenges.  

I have only listed four things which B2B marketers get wrong on the social web. What would you add?  

This entry was posted in Executive Leadership on by .

About David Graham

I consult on business to business digital marketing strategy for individuals and companies of any size. I have more than 20 years sales and marketing experience and have worked for leading global technology and consulting companies. In recent years I have focussed my energy predominantly on online digital marketing.

19 thoughts on “4 things B2B marketers get wrong on the social web

  1. Morris aron

    for brand eminence, youve basically covered it. just to add, i think understanding the target market holds all the keys

    1. David Graham Post author

      Thank you Morris. Irrespective of the communication platform, any decent marketer should understand the markets in which they “play”. Displaying an understanding of the market and associated challenges helps to bud credibility and encourages people to engage, comment, share and to continue comsuming content.

  2. Paul

    I think the point about selling and not engaging is a good one. It’s easy to treat these channels pretty much the same as more conventional, one-way sales channels and to forget that engaging meaningfully around topics and themes can be a far more, well, engaging activity.

  3. fredfeltonsa

    Another wonderful Article David, I myself would also add that people tend to have too much of a rant sometimes. Business People really need to think it through before they post things. One always has to remember that you are representing a company or brand and what you say online reflects on the company or brand.

    1. David Graham Post author

      Thank you Fred. This is why companies need to produce and issue a social media policy which sets the rules on how employees should conduct themself on social media. That means no ranting, bad language, engagement in controversial debates, etc. Some organisations take this too far, so much so that they do not show the human side of their organisation. You need to get the balance right.

      1. David Mannl (@David_Mannl)

        Nice summary, David!

        Personally, I am very much looking forward to keeping an eye on new developments and approaches in the areas of brand advocacy and reactions to PR crisis.

        I am surprised how many large and well known corporations find the time to participate in meaningless twitter battles or how many are even capable of sinking as low as to mud-sling others.

        Interestingly, more often than not these mistakes are made by marketing people (who should be experts) and not by business people per se.

      2. David Graham Post author

        Thank you for your comment David. It is best to steer clear of contentious issues and avoid conflict. People need to constantly remind themself that they are on a public forum.

  4. jtbeale

    Thanks for bringing this post to my attention David. I think point 2 and 4 are so incredibly important, and are too often overlooked by even those that focus on B2C (the easier) social engagement.
    As I mentioned in my post here – http://memeburn.com/2013/05/lessons-in-approaching-the-b2b-market-using-social-media/ – the ironic part about the B2B space in social media is that it ends up being more about showcasing people, and relating to them, than business

    1. David Graham Post author

      Thanks John. You are quite right in terms of showcasing people. Social media is the ideal platform to do this and many businesses are really benefitting by getting their people to produce content and interacting on social media around the suject matter. LinkedIn enables you to present all your credentials and a subtle link in a blog post entices people to visit your profile. Lead with great content and interested parties will take the next step and look at your online CV, products, services, solutions, track trecord, customer testimonials and success stories without you having to tell them. Thank you for the link to your Memeburn article.

  5. Susan Reynard

    Very interesting and valid points raised. What I have found particularly intriguing about social media, from a magazine brand perspective, is that the audience on one platform is often quite different to that on another, with some overlap. Some folk engage regularly on Facebook or Twitter, and others are mostly active on our news website. And the printed magazine has a very loyal following in its own right. It takes time to meet people where they are, so to speak. I spend a lot of time reading into “tone” and pitching my responses and engagement to meet these varying news needs. A fascinating business. Thank you for your insights.

    1. David Graham Post author

      Thank you Susan. One size does not fit all when you are communicating and interacting across multiple platforms. The audience may differ too which you also need to consider. Where you are limited to 140 characters on Twitter you are at liberty to publish more detailed updates on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.

  6. MarkGStacey

    B2B, at least in my space, is a much harder marketing tool than B2C. Even when your audience is on twitter (and to a lesser extent facebook etc), they are often on there in a personal capacity, and might resent (or just unfollow!) a company account that just advertises. B2B marketing on social media is about a personal touch – a mix of personal and business, to make a human connection and not be a marketing machine.

    1. David Graham Post author

      Thank you Mark. I have attempted to get my hands on a Twitter business directory for some time but now realise that it is best to focus on LinkedIn if you want to identify individuals in specific companies.

    1. David Graham Post author

      Thank you Stephen. It is a great definition on which marketers should base their strategies instead of the one-sided broadcasting we are all subjected to. The case studies from those who have benefitted from proper use of these platforms speak for themself.

    1. David Graham Post author

      Thanks for your comment Lee. My advice is to get your “social” people to own social media. If you don’t have any people that fit the job description, employ them. Also, be selective about who you connect with (and who connects with you) and have the right conversations with the right people.


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