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Pros and Cons of Social Media Marketing in B2B

Pros and Cons of Social Media Marketing in B2B

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn…and now Google+….phew! With so many social media platforms available, many B2B leaders are feeling overwhelmed by the number of options for getting their message out. In our B2B marketing outsourcing team, we love investigating new social networks and finding ways to effectively use them. But we also understand there are only so many hours in the day – and that a company has to figure out how much time to dedicate to social media.

Evaluating the potential of social media platforms and making strategic decisions about which to use is critical for B2B companies. This is becoming increasingly important as the search engines attach more and more value to a company’s involvement with social media. However, with limited time and resources available, B2B marketing professionals need to take advantage of tools that help them leverage content across multiple channels.

There are strong benefits from using social media. It allows you to communicate with large groups and provide a more personalized feel - making members of your social networks feel more connected with your organization. It also allows better targeting to promote your business effectively. Consider the power of LinkedIn - you can post your corporate updates, press releases, blogs and case studies to industry groups who have self-selected themselves as interested in what you do. What could be better?

But it takes considerable time to establish and maintain a strong social presence. We see too many companies jump into the social media pool without a plan and without the resources to do it properly on a sustained basis. And their social media efforts fail as a result. Effective social media requires a dedicated resource – if not full time, at least a significant portion of their time.

This schedule by Heidi Cohen is a simple but accurate assessment of the pros and cons of different social platforms:

social media chart

In our experience, the order of impact of social media for B2B companies is:

  1. LinkedIn (easy to do, growing in usage)
  2. YouTube (powerful for search and explaining complex businesses, videos are much easier and cost-effective to do than they used to be)
  3. Blogs (good for demonstrating thought leadership but takes serious commitment)
  4. Twitter (great if one of your team members likes using it; a thorn in the side if not)
  5. Facebook (growing in usage – yes even in B2B, but still a ways off for most B2Bs)

There is no right or wrong way to engage socially. And social media will continue to play an increasingly important role in B2B marketing through 2012 and beyond. The importance of transparency, clarity and being actively engaged will improve your company’s reputation in the eyes of your customers and the search engines will take notice too! Having a fully engaged and optimized presence on the web must include social media.

What social media tools do you find most effective?