Why social media is relevant to B2B CEOs and CMOs
What an interesting week. I met with a CEO of an established B2B software firm interested in having his company more involved in social media, met with a B2B CMO colleague dabbling in social media on behalf of his company, and listened to Scott Monty of Ford Automotive present at DigiDays on Ford’s innovative B2C social media strategy (which I’m quite impressed with to say the least–B2B marketers, this is a case study worth observing). From those discussions, here are 3 Reasons why I believe social media has become more relevant for the C level audience based on actual B2B data on sales and customer experiences.
1. Branding opportunity: I recently met with a software company specializing in helping CMOs do their job more effectively. Ironically, they are unable to use their company name and identity in social media tool Twitter because someone else took their unique name ahead of them (maybe a competitor?) What happens if malicious or false information is disseminated via this new identity owner, think of the brand risk and damage control. Better to play a strong offense NOW rather than waiting to play a defense. Grab those ever important product or service line extension names BEFORE you go to market if posible–either your PR agency and/or marketing communications head should be leaning into this at the CMOs direction.
2. Given the current economic climate, some buyers are grouchy yet every customer connection counts. As an example, a CMO colleague of a successful SMB $50M+ company personally contacted every disgruntled customer he found complaining on Twitter and used the tool as more for understanding customer issues and did not use it selfishly for demand/pipeline advancement (defense instead of offense!). This was a great case of observing, listening, then responding and an engaged two way dialogue like I mentioned in my last post. The risk in pushing a product or view ahead of engaging customers is tuning out an audience. This CMO effectively built a rapport.
3. Now that the financial Q4 surprises are behind us and fiscal 09 planning is either in progress or behind us, CEOs have now got permission from their board of directors that financially speaking, ’09 will look nothing like ’08. Consequently, now is the time for smart companies to take prudent risks with social media (see my earlier post on how B2B companies were using Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook) to further their business objectives. Each company will need to prudently invest as it is likely to cost internal cycles of people to create the right content or do the right monitoring of social networks to get the maximum benefit from these networks–this work should be done internally, not externally, though one has to weigh the cost/benefit analysis relative to other priorities.
comScore posted a note that Twitter’s February traffic was up 55% over January. This other link is an excellent analysis of the growth trajectory of Twitter and reinforces the importance of why CEOs and CMOs must take social media tools like this in consideration in the next generation of marketing to their customers and prospects.