If you look hard enough, you can now attend a discussion on social media everyday of the week. Invariably, they are given by an expert (though how you can be an expert in something that evolves so quickly really escapes me). And you can attend for free or spend quite a lot of money for the enlightenment promised.
Yet most of the events, I’ve attended fail to deliver for the following reasons:
1. They are not sufficiently business focused. Speakers inevitably talk about big consumer marketing examples, perhaps because it is easier. These are the brands that have amassed some social media momentum and are more visible. Yet I believe that more people work in b2b marketing than b2c but time and time again this is overlooked. This has a knock on effect to tools selected (see point 2).
Action: Consider how companies selling to each other through a more complex b2b model are effectively using social media.
2. They talk about the same tools. Social media is not just about Facebook and Twitter. Yes they’re big and, used well, can communicate messages, drive traffic, stimulate debate, build profile. If you are in b2b marketing you need to use information and good content to drive traffic and stimulate interest in what you do. Relevant, usable content has been proven to help companies position themselves and their people at all stages of the b2b buying process.
Action: Really critique the tools you are using and check out the series on b2b social media tools that I wrote late last year – there will be something there for you.
3. They fail to link the setting of objectives and the setting of success metrics. If you don’t know what success is going to look like and don’t set objectives to help you measure and quantify it in advance, how can you possibly ascertain return on your investment?
This was the topic at a recent event in Manchester but predictably the panel and audience got a little stuck on tactical measurements like fans, connections, follows, retweets and so on, which actually have little tangible conversion value. Setting objectives and metrics doesn’t have to be difficult, and in reality is no different to any other form of marketing.
Action: See the graphic in this blog post to learn more about the range of social media metrics.
4. They fail to address attribution of outcome and to what extent social media plays a part. In a connected and integrated world it is harder to establish which activity ultimately impacts a buying decision. Was it the drip press advertising, the email, the personalised direct mail, the sales call, the website, Facebook page, offer on Twitter, the webinar, the YouTube video? Companies really need to build a strategy to understand this better otherwise how will they know what works and what doesn’t.
Action: Implement quick-fire, single question surveys across all activity to help establish attribution.
5. They often reference tired. dated case studies and social media cliches. Even at a meeting of opinionated, weathered social media folk in Manchester this week, Dell Outlet, Old Spice and Zappos were top of the ‘bingo’ list. Dell has indeed monetized Twitter, but in overall turnover % terms it’s barely 1%. And Zappos, the shoe chain, legend for empowering staff to deliver amazing customer service online, is no longer a new news story.
Action: Do some research and quote new examples.
6. Seminars are often given by people with no more practical experience than the people in the audience. But it is the cache of their brand or the clients they work for – again predominantly b2c – that elevates them to the panel. To be fair there are some very good speakers and some very knowledgable folk on the circuit, but the term ‘expert’ when applied to social media just really gets my back straight away.
Action: Push for more varied contributions and experience based content in your event planning and feedback.
You must have attended some events discussing social media? Did you come away with new insight and helpful information or were you left frustrated?