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Where B2B Marketers Find ROI on Social Media

Where B2B Marketers Find ROI on Social Media

June 25, 2013 | By Brian Whitaker | No Comments

Facebook, LinkedIn, Google +, Twitter and more.  Social media has exploded over a very short period of time.  At first B2B companies were cautious about using this new media.  A few brave souls stepped out and experimented with varying levels of success.

Then, more and more of them entered the new media and found ways to connect with prospects and customers. New social media platforms appeared and existing ones expanded.  There was more activity than ever.

But there was also one common problem across all platforms with all types of B2B marketers – how to determine what the return on investment was from social media activities.  With so many options, where should a company focus their resources?

Recently, one social media site has become the place that B2B marketers go to get the return on investment they want.  Turns out it has some real value for B2B copywriters too (besides getting hired to produce content.)

Brian Whitaker pulls back the curtain and reveals which social media site is becoming more popular with B2B companies every day.

Charlotte Hicks,
Managing Editor

social media concept“If you’ve read about social media or been to any marketing conferences, you’ve probably heard tons of advice like love your customers, engage in the conversation, be yourself, and make friends … But, there’s a problem. Myths aren’t real and superstitions often do more harm than good.”

-Dan Zarrella, Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness

Many social media ‘gurus,’ ‘strategists,’ ‘evangelists,’ or whatever the in-fashion descriptor is this week, will tell you that social media solves all ills. It’s supposed to be a cure-all, an immediate fix-it, an opportunity to be distinctive, to demonstrate your hip, ‘I’m cool because I get it’ insight and style.

But, that view is disconnected from the hard, fundamental fact of business — activities must demonstrate a positive return on investment (ROI).

Why is ROI so important? Because it’s a measure of effort vs. impact. It’s basically profit divided by expense. And, much social media advice points you toward effort (which is an expense) without benefit.

On the one hand, I’d be delighted to be a hip media pundit, beloved by millions, but on the other hand, without ROI, I won’t have much of an opportunity to help my clients.

Many new copywriters spend dozens or hundreds of hours trying to make social media work for them for networking and connecting with potential clients. But, they fail to uncover or demonstrate real value to those prospects. They treat social media as something they just do without assigning an expense to it. To me, that sounds like a hobby that’s a fast track to business failure and disillusionment.

I want to help you use social media in effective ways that will help you find clients.

To do that, you need to start delivering value with your social media efforts and start communicating with the right audience of prospects. If you are doing B2B marketing, you need to find B2B marketing managers. To extend an analogy I used in my article How to Find B2B Prospects at a Fortune 500 Company, you need to be at the right party.

Here’s a story from long ago. When I started college, my declared major was biomedical engineering. Within days on campus, I realized the engineering school was the wrong place for me. Why? Three reasons:

  1. I didn’t like artificial limbs. Seriously — I wasn’t passionate about artificial limbs. Go figure.
  2. I couldn’t talk to fledging engineers about the stuff that did interest me — music and theatre and art and science and history.
  3. And, the big issue that really confronted me — there weren’t any girls.

I was clearly at the wrong party. So, I moved to the other side of campus, found something I was passionate about, started having interesting conversations, and occasionally got to hang out with girls.

Looking at the situation from a marketer’s perspective — I found an audience where my messages would resonate. What I was, what I said, and how I said it fit the needs and expectations of my new audience.

And, that’s the key failing of so many people who start looking for clients with social media. They’re talking to the wrong audience.

But, here’s an insider’s secret. Many companies send their best marketers to a party on a hidden social media site — right now. It happens 24 days a week, 365 days a year. But, it’s not any of the sites you’d think to visit.

It’s a party … on YouTube

YouTube is, by many measures, the second most popular search engine in the United States, and the third most popular social media site.

I bet you don’t think of it as a social media site, do you? But it is. Mashable points out that YouTube is the most buzzed about social media service as it delivers something for everyone with very high satisfaction ratings. Like fuzzy bunnies? YouTube is for you. Like scooters? YouTube is for you. Like Infiniband or CRM software? YouTube is for you.

It’s one of the best hotspots for B2B and B2C technology marketers today. Think of it as the marketers’ favorite hotspot. And, it’s been hot for years. YouTube isn’t a Friendster or Craigslist or Groupon — it’s a stable, beneficial, essential platform for tens of thousands of B2B companies. Why?

Videos generate ROI

I need you to try something. Go to YouTube, think of a B2B product you’re interested in, say Cisco switches or Eloqua marketing automation software. Then, run a YouTube search like “Cisco switch demo.”

You will start discovering dozens of videos written by and starring B2B marketers and technologists.

Creating these videos has become a standard practice for B2B companies. Many companies have official YouTube channels to promote these videos to their customers, drive subscriptions, deliver warm sales leads, and educate recent purchasers.

Why? Because video gets results. On one of the subsidiary sites, 62 percent of the most frequently viewed pages are videos. And, understanding how companies in your niche use video can help you uncover prospects, demonstrate value, and drive success for your clients.

Here are my suggestions on places to start.

  • Pick companies you want to target.
  • Search for their videos and write down the names of people who appear in the videos. Many of those people will be your target audience — B2B marketing managers.
  • Use the videos to educate yourself about the company’s technology. This is a good opportunity to build acumen so you can display credibility.

As you educate yourself, you can learn a great deal about how a prospective client likes to present themselves to customers. That research will make you a better copywriter. As you’re listening and watching, ask questions like:

  • Who is the target audience? Are they talking to users, influencers, or buyers?
  • Are they talking about features, functions, and benefits?
  • Are they using customer testimonials?
  • Do they publish marketing videos or product demos?
  • Do they stick with one central idea or are they trying to pack too many ideas into a single video?
  • How would you re-write the video to make it more impactful?

Take a few minutes and start working through videos in your niche and see if you can find a list of 20 marketers you’d like to target. Study them so you are better prepared to market yourself to those companies. Then your next step is contacting your target marketers and marketing your services to them.

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Brian Whitaker

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