B2B’s fear of social media and change

2009 was the year to test social and for B2B businesses to become aware of the benefits of using social media as an integral part of their strategy for 2010. It is clear that social media is starting to take on an important role in many B2B marketing plans as I have lost count in the last few days of the number of tweets on Twitter which contain  ’social media spend to grow in 2010′and ‘businesses to increase usage and budget for social media activities in 2010′. Yet there are still some small and medium sized B2B companies reluctant to adopt a social media strategy next year.

Fear? Risk? Change?

Is there an element of fear in B2B businesses to use social media as a channel or is there a risk factor which in turn is why businesses shy away from these tools or is the entire social media frenzy too much of a change? I still see many questions asked on LinkedIn if social media is right for their business. The answer to that is ‘yes’ but only if you decide what you want to get out of using social media prior to developing a strategy.

Examples of goals or uses for using social media include:

  1. Increase web traffic – remember to have good content on your site
  2. Educate customers on products or services
  3. Engage in industry discussions
  4. Connect with other industry bodies/organisations
  5. Network with key industry people
  6. Improve customer service

Fear of the pace of change

You also have to remember that many B2B businesses (Executives included) have yet still to adapt to the digital age. The pace of technology has moved on to quickly for many marketers to keep up with. How do you keep up with the latest technology and how to integrate them within the current or new marketing strategy? You only have to look at the expected growth in mobile comms and apps next year to see that marketer’s maybe playing catch up for quite some time.

My take on this is that there is a fear amongst business executives of being unable grasp what social media is and how it can assist with the core business strategy. There is a risk of not being able to control and cope with what people are saying about their brand online and how to influence it (what you don’t know won’t hurt you) and then there is the overall reluctance to change from traditional marketing techniques to using and integrating modern digital mediums including social media. Businesses who sit on the sidelines and wait whilst others excel, risk losing the control of their online brand presence and most importantly risk losing an opportunity to engage with their market which in turn will soon be the customers of tomorrow….sometimes referred to as Generation Y (Facebook generation).

B2B businesses see value in using social media

In a recent report conducted by eConsultancy it showed that more than half of businesses surveyed are getting real tangible value from social media use and 86% of businesses will be increasing social media spend in 2010. However, these businesses have also identified that resources and time were barriers to increasing spend in social media and online PR. 27% of these businesses use Twitter as a customer service tool and 26% use Twitter as a feedback tool.

Constantly playing catch up

My point is this, the businesses that have been proactive and adopted an early social media strategy have over come that  fear and change and are actively integrating social media into their marketing and business strategy and now have more control over their brand than previously. Those who have yet to dip their toes into new waters really could have their work cut out, not next year, but for the foreseeable future as social media really starts to transform how businesses engage with their customers.

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