I work with a number of small B2B companies in the industrial electronics industry. They all want to know what they should be doing in social media. Like me, they are inundated with emails offering to increase business ten-fold by embracing social media.
So off I go to social media lectures and forums to seek some wisdom to bring back to my clients. At a recent roundtable of marketing peers, we did a survey of our best practices in social media. My key take-aways were:
1. Social media is not free. To do it well, you have to invest time. In the case of a medium-to-large sized organization, this means hiring staff to focus on the work. You can’t have the Marketing Manager or CEO do it in their spare time.
2. Social media requires discipline and planning. The best companies had social media policies and procedures. These were usually put in place after an “incident” had occurred.
3. ROI on social media expenditures were extremely hard to calculate.
4. Companies in the B2C market space were better able to find evidence of revenue gain based on their social media programs.
The enlightening moment for me came when we looked at a chart of the hype cycle. We all tried to place our businesses on a particular part of the curve. While some of the B2C companies were starting up the “slope of enlightenment,” I realized that many of my clients were heading toward the “peak of inflated expectations.”
So my recommendation for my small B2B clients is to stay tuned to see how the social media trend will develop for companies of their size. In the mean time, I’m telling them to spend their social media budget on a plane ticket to visit key customers.