B-to-B Insights: Do You Feel Stupid That You Don’t Tweet?
Organizers at a recent marketing conference billed a session, "Determining ROI from Social Media." Panel members cited the number of their followers on Twitter, their companies' friends on Facebook and their views on YouTube. While these metrics may be important, they're not return on investment. In short, none of the panelists could track ROI for their social media efforts.
So if you're not tweeting, blogging or streaming, don't feel stupid. You probably just have bottom-line accountability and don't want to waste money. Come to think of it, you're actually sounding pretty smart. But, you're probably receiving pressure to jump on the social media bandwagon. It's just that you're justifiably concerned that it may not yield measureable benefits. Like all direct marketing, approaching social media efforts from a strategic perspective will improve your chances.
What's Social Media?
Before we go any further, let's define our topic. Social media implies that users (aka viewers and readers) can respond within the forum of that media. Customer reviews on Amazon.com are a great example. Adobe's online forums, where you can get help from both Adobe-provided content and fellow users — and then evaluate the usefulness of the information — are also effective. The following list contains an overview of currently available forms of social media that can apply to B-to-B multichannel companies:
✓ blogs (such as WordPress and Blogger);
✓ video sites (YouTube is the prime example);
✓ social networking sites (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.);
✓ user reviews (such as on Amazon.com);
✓ streaming sites (e.g., Ustream);
✓ online forums (such as Microsoft's or Adobe's); and
✓ messaging forums (i.e., Twitter).
A Social Media Strategy
If you're serious about getting into social media, strategically select a couple of these forums and focus on them. You'll also want to determine the objective for your efforts. Investing in an online help forum, for example, could reduce your customer service expenses and improve your customers' overall experience with your products. If your product warrants this type of service, it could really set you apart from your competition, helping you create a unique position in the market.
A columnist for Retail Online Integration, George founded HAGUEdirect, a marketing agency. Previously he was a member of the Shawnee Mission, Kan.-based consulting and creative agency J. Schmid & Assoc. He has more than 10 years of experience in circulation, advertising, consulting and financial strategy in the catalog/retail industry. George's expertise includes circulation strategy, mailing execution, response analysis and financial planning. Before joining J. Schmid, George worked as catalog marketing director at Dynamic Resource Group, where he was responsible for marketing and merchandising for the Annie's Attic Needlecraft catalog, the Clotilde Sewing Notions catalog, the House of White Birches Quilter's catalog and three book clubs. George also worked on corporate acquisitions.