I’m a brand strategist and also a regular speaker at conferences on the topic of integrating social media, content and SEO into your marketing strategies. We work a lot in the B2B space and I joke (with love) that my clients are often a bunch of middle-aged senior leaders who don’t get just exactly how the web has changed marketing, and they really don’t get social networking. Even more important, it’s often a stretch for them to think beyond the traditional selling methods they’ve used for decades, many of which have been very successful, and consider how important it is to change with the times and adopt your marketing strategies to fit consumer behavior.
Part of my job is convincing them that their customers are using social media networks, their prospects are using social media networks and, quite likely, their prospects are using social media networks. To, well, you know, network. Meet people. Prospect for new business and engage with existing customers and make sure you’re keeping them happy. You know – all that.
Many of my peers in the industry scoff at marketers or look with disdain at business owners who’ve not yet understood the importance of leveraging the web to grow their businesses, which just about always includes a mixture of creating great content, smart SEO tactics and the use of social media channels in a strategic manner. But I feel differently.
The Front Lines: That’s Where It’s Real
My team and I are on the front lines with our clients and prospective clients on a daily basis. We mostly work with marketing teams and/or business owners, most of whom are really smart people. Well, actually, all of them are really smart people. Yet many of them, either due to lack of understanding or expertise, lack of human resources or lack of budget, just haven’t yet been able to connect and power what they are doing off line with what they’re doing online. Which is actually kind of awesome, because that’s typically brings us together.
I’ll give you an example. One of our newest prospective clients is a super smart business owner with a tremendously successful business, who probably just spent upwards of $20K to upgrade their corporate website. It looks great visually, the brand messaging is good, and yet they’ve had a whopping 54 visits to the website since January 2012. They’ve been relying wholly on the efforts of their sales team and face-to-face selling in an industry and with a product that’s totally a “human” product. No social networking, no content creation, no social media presence. And, most importantly, no leveraging of the web to drive leads and sales. Be still my heart. I love a client like this more than almost anything, because it’s a chance for us to get involved, do what we know will work, and produce some awesome results. Why anyone in my peer group would look down at a client or an opportunity like that, just because they’re not there yet is beyond me.
Let’s Look at the Data: Just How Many Social Media Users Are There?
My point in the foregoing is simple. There are businesses of all shapes and sizes selling and making and doing all kinds of things that haven’t yet realized the power of the Internet as it relates to their businesses and their customers and taken steps to leverage that. In spite of the fact that, at least in many instances, that’s where their customers and prospects are going to find the products or services they sell and/or where they go to decide vet who they want to buy from.
These numbers, in an infographic produced by Dustin.tv, prompted this post. Just take a gander at how many users there are in a variety of social media channels, including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ (take this number with a grain of salt, please) and Pinterest. That’s a WHOLE LOT of people! Errr, prospects.
Social Media: That’s Where Trust Happens
If you’re one of the marketers or business owners who’s not yet seen the value of leveraging the Web for your marketing and sales efforts and/or who’s not yet figured out that social media channels are filled with customers – your customers – maybe this will inspire you to think differently in 2014. One final data point on that topic, 92% of consumers trust social media recommendations more than any other kind of recommendation (think email, tv, print, outdoor ads or radio). And it’s because they come from people, and they trust people more than they trust advertising. So if you’re not there, and not participating in social media channels, you’re missing lots of opportunities.
And also? If you’re one of those marketers that I meet at conferences who laughingly tells me that social media is for the youngsters and you don’t really participate – did you see the news about the trends of reductions in marketing departments? This is a bandwagon that makes sense for you to get on, figure out, and learn how to tie to business initiatives. Those are the marketers who will have jobs in the future.
By the way, if you’re in or near San Diego, or if you live somewhere cold and want to head to warm weather in January, come join us at the Integrated Marketing Summit in San Diego on January 30 and 31st, where we’ll be talking about stuff just like this.
Other resources you might like:
Daniel Pink: The New ABCs of Selling
AllTwitter: Consumers Trust Social Media Recommendations [and Facebook Most of All]
SocialMediaToday: B2B Marketing Strategies for 2013 and Beyond
V3: Five Truths About Integrating Social Business Into Your Organization
Infographics via Dustn.tv
This post originally appeared on Integrated Marketing Summit Blog