Having something to say is more important than where you say it.
The likelihood of selling a $30,000 piece of industrial equipment because of a tweet is as low as winning the lottery. The chances aren’t higher with a Facebook post or a Pinterest pin. They may be slightly better with a YouTube video. And, perhaps they are a tinge higher with a LinkedIn discussion.
So, does this mean social media is a waste of time? It’s not, but it does beg the questions about what applications are right for industrial marketers.
Our experience shows that the answer is less about the specific application or platform and more about creating content that can meaningfully engage a purchaser or influencer at various stages of the often-long purchase cycle. That content can then be delivered through social platforms that nurture an individual relationship – whether known or unknown – from initial awareness to advocacy. It’s business-to-me marketing and communications.
As planning for 2015 is underway, many business-to-business marketers are developing a content marketing strategy that must integrate with a holistic marketing and communications program. That strategy should enable the brand to insert educational content at touch points where it can differentiate itself as a helpful resource. Resist the urge to sell at every interaction – particularly ones via social applications. And, create meaningful engagements with prospective customers and influencers.
Content development can be overwhelming because of resource and cost constraints. Manage the challenge by identifying where content can be most helpful in your customers’ unique purchasing process. It’s not a secret to anyone that most buyers are pretty far along in their purchase process by the time they actually engage with a small set of suppliers. It’s often content that moves them toward purchase before Sales is engaged.
It’s this approach that brings us back to social media applications that are one way to create desired interactions throughout the purchase process. They must be part of a content marketing strategy, if nothing more than as distribution channels (YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook) to create an opportunity for engagement early in the research phase. That’s the low-hanging fruit. Higher up the tree – and further down the sales funnel – use the applications that allow for more meaningful engagement, such as real-time service support (Twitter or Facebook), collective problem solving (LinkedIn or online forums) or even open innovation via a private online community (numerous platform options).
The most advanced industrial marketers are not concerned about a social presence on all available applications. They don’t even care about how many people follow the brand on Twitter or like it on Facebook. They’re concerned about engaging with individuals. And, if a social application can measurably enhance engagement, then it’s probably a good idea.