There has been a vigorous surge of activity in the social media space. You’re probably aware of it. But in true B2B style, they (you) are talking about it a lot, but doing naff all. The sticking point, seemingly, is measurement. The sticking point is always measurement in B2B. Talk about it, think about it, talk again, do naff all. Not without cast-iron, watertight and bulletproof case studies that prove unequivocally and beyond reasonable doubt that the measurable ROI outweighs the risk to existing brand equity. We might let someone in the company have a Twitter account. But only if it’s completely non-attributable and absolutely nothing to do with us. Just in case..
Well, I for one, am bored. I’m bored of telling companies that they have to actively engage with social media for their brand to remain relevant in a digital economy and I’m bored of listening to agencies pretending they have measurement matrices that prove they know what the customer is doing and what they are going to do next. They don’t. They predict and it all completely misses the point of social media.
The clue’s in the name. It’s ‘social media’. The B2B opportunity is for brands to engage ‘socially’ with their customers, get closer to them, bring them closer to the brand, maybe positively influence perception – and that’s it. Why does there have to be any more? Why, as part of a broader brand strategy, can’t our brands just be… social? Why can’t we have a, wait for it… a brand personality? And why have we lost sight of the fact that social media became popular for the very reason that our customers were trying to escape the corporate machine?
So, instead of a case study, with ROI and other boring things, here’s a story a friend wrote recently about his mobile parking experiences. There’s a good guy, a bad guy, triumph over adversity and a happy ending.He referenced the positive and creditable attributes of a mobile parking service provider. No biggie. He posted and went back to work.
Two days later there was a letter on his desk. Not an email. A letter. The next day the company found him on Twitter and started following him as well as saying very nice things about him, his brand and the post he had made. He followed the company back. Then he received a lengthy email from the company’s marketing manager (which she was enthusiastic enough to spend her Saturday night writing). And they stayed connected on LinkedIn.
He didn’t ‘know’ these people. I had not tried to ‘sell’ anything. They were not part of any ‘process’. Everyone was just being social. He felt reasonably confident they’ll be saying nice things about their experience with his brand just as he really enjoyed telling this story. One day, the phone will ring and someone will say the company suggested they call him. That’s the point of social media. It’s no more complicated than that. You can talk about it some more and wait for the measurement statistics if you insist, but from then on, we just decided to help the brands that are prepared to actually do it. Talk to the Facebook page ‘cos the hand ain’t listening.