While some businesses seem to find social media a doddle, others struggle. Many consumer businesses have found that social media allows a very personal kind of brand experience that is more effective, lower cost and more human than the dreaded call centres that social service centres replaced. But, many business-to-business organisations don’t love social media. They avoid it hoping it isn’t relevant to them. Wrong.
Lauren Irwin argued on this site that business do really need social media. She made that argument during the pandemic. That’s over two years ago, yet here we still are.
During the pandemic and immediately afterwards, we tracked tens of thousands of business’s search activity online. We were seeking to identify the most searched subjects related to marketing. Our premise was that – as an integrated marketing group – people searching for information probably had an itch that we could help scratch.
Most searched social media terms by marketers
More effective use of social media was a top five enquiry month after month. The most searched topics were;
- social media advertising
- social strategy
- social influencers
It struck me as odd that while businesses were searching tactical issues like advertising, content and influencers, many hadn’t got to grip with the two most fundamental building blocks of social media: social service (including social listening) and social selling.
So… I took to social media to find out why. In this case, I chose LinkedIn as my platform as it seemed the best to elicit strong B2B responses and I posted a slightly provocative post about social being a cess pit of an echo chamber. The post performed so well, I invited the best commenters onto one of my podcast, Marketing Trek. One guest in particular fascinated me so I turned his story into a bonus edition.
Social media is an essential service and sales channel
I’ve pasted a player for both the main episode and the bonus below, but you can find the pod on all good platforms too. In the intro, I think I said something like “From a business perspective, social media offers many opportunities”. That might be the understatement of the century?
Social is an essential service and sales channel for every business. If you’re not already embracing it, you’re not seizing an opportunity that’s staring you in the face.
Jeff Watt, MD of city-based communications consultancy Greentarget agrees. “B2B have been slower than perhaps their consumer facing peers to respond to and manage and engage with channels like that.” He said, referring to social channels. “But there are lots of examples that we have seen more recently where reputational damage appears very, very quickly. It spreads very quickly on social media channels”, he added.
And there’s the rub. If you’re not already in it, how are you going to handle things when crisis hits? And who’s going to handle it?
Who guards your brand reputation?
Andy Sutherden is a seasoned marketer and communicator who was on the London 2012 bid and organising team and has worked for giant global brands all his life. He spoke to me about social media and reputation particularly around who is responsible for a business’s reputation on social.
“Communications and reputation should always sits at the board table”, he explained. “It strikes me that when I’m asked about the importance of enhancing a reputation, the [emergency] blue [rescue] light arrives when reputation has been damaged, or it’s in tatters and you’re there to fix it. I’d much rather be an expert that elevates the importance of getting and keeping a good reputation rather than waiting for something horrible to go wrong, then trying to fix it.”
So maybe now, almost two decades after social changed everything it’s time to look in the mirror and ask “are we really doing everything we can to extract value from social?