In the last couple of weeks, we've been talking about leveraging content to start or continue a conversation with your customers or prospects. Offering something of value in exchange for attention towards a mutually accepted goal or direction goes to the heart of communications.
There is still plenty of unrealized opportunity for B2B companies to unlock this value through social media. That's because the greatest value to the organization that gets involved in social media is not the cool promotional glitz.
We talk about customer support regularly. What about customer acquisition and real time retention? We kind of know about new product ideas. What about strategic business intelligence? These more operational business ideas go along with humanizing the organization, establishing yourself as a thought leader, and tracking marketing effectiveness.
We touched upon these topics in our conversation yesterday at the Web 2.0 Expo with Jennifer Zeszut of Scout Labs, Peter Kim of Dachis, Shiv Singh of Razonfish, Randy Ksar of Motorola, Aaron Dignan of Undercurrent, and James Smith of Disney.com.
The attitudes and approaches remain the same:
- (degrees of) transparency
- ability (and tools) to listen
- openness to dialogue (and data capture)
- humanness (as in being human and injecting human experience in correlating and interpreting data)
It's possible that what you're currently doing, the way your operation is organized, are great. And that you're a perfect fit for your customer, prospects, and the market as a whole.
But here's the thing, sometimes when you get out there and start talking with customers through many levels - and lenses - in the organization... once you start not just seeing, but experiencing the behaviors of your partners and even those of your competitors, you will know whether that market alignment is real. Well, you kind of know already from your sales numbers, if they're really bad one of the options could still be a communication problem.
Unless as an organization you bring back what you learn out there inside, unless you change the way you create the ultimate value - that of your products and services, how you deliver them, what they are in the first place, then social media is just window dressing in the same way as a lot of marketing has come to be considered these days - making a splash with glitzy or shiny objects, and backing it up with little substance or sustainable value over time.
Social media could be either the biggest bubble that ever hit us all, even bigger than the dot-bomb. Or, it could be the best thing that ever happened to your business, if you learn to make it operational. In that case, you could say it is a marketing thing after all.
The whole business from product conceptualization to its internal functions, to the go-to-market piece, and everything in between. If that's what you mean, then you see right away how B2B companies have indeed a very rich opportunity to become useful not just to customers looking for information, but to the marketplace in its entirety by becoming better organizations.
What do you think? Is social media a marketing thing?
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