Social Media: Big Bucks for B2B Business?
Social Media is rapidly overtaking all other forms of Marketing to become the core consideration for businesses in the 21st Century. Establishing a ‘Social Authority’ in the industry space which a company inhabits is seen as being a definite impetus for driving ROI. Entering this realm of business driven social media is an ever increasing number of new platforms for businesses to consider, but with an expanding quiver of arrows the question for modern Marketers is which arrow flies best for their business, and should we simply fire them all and hope they hit the target with their customers?
The market is dominated by several strong contenders which give businesses a range of ways to interact with their customers. The market leader being Facebook, which with nearly 600 million users provides a high street more crowded that Oxford Street at Christmas time. However, the core functionality of Facebook is seen as not being ideally suited to driving businesses beyond brand building, despite recent eCommerce tailored developments on the site. Twitter offers a more obvious marketplace for circulating company perspectives and news online, but the nature of the beast is one of conversation, and things quiet quickly when companies press listeners to buy. For those of us who inhabit the B2B world however, the secret weapon in the arsenal is more and more becoming LinkedIn. The recently publicly traded platform offers a more clearly tailored option for businesses to communicate with receptive audiences without feeling like a gate crasher at a social party. The focus for brands needs to remain on developing a position of authority and holding a conversation with followers but LinkedIn users are more open to business networking than Facebook users for instance. Now, to compete with LinkedIn’s position as the B2B favourite, job site Monster is launching its own Facebook based networking app BeKnown. How BeKnown differs is by offering Facebook users the ability to separate their personal and professional contacts without having conflicting Facebook pages. Centralising business and personal networking into the Facebook site means that Marketers will once again have to re-establish their Facebook presence, and brands will have more options to target users.
However, whilst this development does allow a broader usage of Facebook, it does have the smacks of a stripy Leopard about it. Social Media at its core is about being a social forum for its users, by trying to alter its focus and allow brands more leeway for interacting with followers could have a back lash in the long run by driving users away. The more savvy web users already are hitting the block button on the more aggressive brands and without a clear objective behind their social media strategy, many companies could be doing more harm than good by positioning themselves on the platforms. What is clear however is the fact that businesses will continue to approach social media as a pool of untapped potential customers, how they monetise their approach and what they offer to consumers will be the making or breaking of the brand.