On Tuesday, June 8th, I will be joining a distinguished panel of folks from leading firms such as Bloomberg, Capgemini, CB Richard Ellis, MS&L, and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. The session will be moderated by David Rosen, Chief of B2B Social Media at Makovsky + Company. We will be discussing what the PRSA is calling “The Forbidden Dance: B2B and Social Media”.
Why the alluring title of “The Forbidden Dance”? According to David Rosen from Makovsky + Company:
I called it the “Forbidden Dance” because the primary obstacle (in my view) to B2Bs adopting social media is no longer the question of whether it works. That has been answered beyond any doubt. And yet it remains “forbidden” at many places because of cultural, regulatory, organizational and operational barriers. Those are being worked through, but I wanted to have the panel focus on these issues to speed it up. To empower attendees to learn practical ways to get their organizations on board.
So below is a recap of the 7 burning questions along with a summary of my view:
1. How do you overcome internal fears, politics and budget battles in integrating social media into marketing? Quite simply: Executive buy-in. Social media is simply about having an interaction with customers (at the most basic level) in all the places where our customers are hanging out. Customers are expecting it and some of them are making businesses pay a steep cost when the brand presence isn’t there. This point needs to be made clear to the business leaders at all layers across the organization. And the cost of not acting must be made plain.
2. How do you manage the personal brands of executives? This is an area of opportunity for B2B companies and needs to be managed very carefully. According to this study, none of the Global Fortune 100 CEOs had a blog and only 2 had a presence on Twitter. So the answer right now is to get an executive personal brand presence. I recently attended a session at the Social Media Plus conference in Philadelphia led by Sue Marks, CEO of Pinstripe, a recruitment process outsourcing company. She said the best advice to give a CEO who is considering starting a blog or getting involved in social media was a quote from Apple CEO Steve Jobs: “JFDI” (That’s “Just F-ing Do It”).
3. Which department should own social media? Last week, I wrote this recent post titled “Why Social Media Will Help Us All Get Along (Better)” where I explain that everyone has a stake and no one owns it. But social media is driving functional departments to work together on common customer problems. This is one of the most positive outcomes of the social media activity in B2B marketing.
4. Which is more important: channel or content strategy? It’s all about content! Social media is just another channel and just another tool to reach customers. Obviously there are unique content considerations for social media but any good content strategy starts with an understanding of customer needs and then considers channel strategies.
5. How can you successfully structure pilot programs that pass muster with the C-suite and work with your compliance department to approve your program? My advice is to start small. Put “share this” and “follow us” links on all emails and web pages. Maintain a corporate presence on the major social channels. Most important – listen to the conversations and use those insights to drive integrated campaigns that use traditional, digital, and social tactics in harmony- centered on meeting a well-defined customer need.
6. How do you divide and conquer social media across sales, marketing, customer service? Stay in your role and decide how each department can contribute in the social space. Because this is the hot new thing, I always advise eager department heads that their first objective in social media is to define their objectives for using social media. Once that is complete, there is usually plenty of responsibility to go around.
7. ROI: How do you link social media activity to the bottom line? For real! The truth is that there is little to no cost for having a real, professional, corporate presence in social media. And the cost of NOT having that presence can be staggering. There are too many well known examples like “United Breaks Guitars”. So the bottom line is that for very little cost there is tremendous upside (however hard to track) in utilizing social channels to reach real customers in real time. And the cost of not doing it is incalculable.
I know this was a brief review of some very big questions. To hear more, I hope some of you can join in us in New York or follow along on twitter using hashtag #B2BDance.
by Michael Brenner, June 7, 2010