Pinterest? Are You Kidding? Focus til You Get Social Marketing Right

I just saw another Tweet about how Pinterest isn’t only for consumer marketers. Give me a break. Have you seen the state of tech / industrial social marketing? There’s no way most companies should be jumping on Pinterest yet…they’re still trying to get their blogging and YouTube acts together. If you don’t have good content in place (blog posts, white papers, videos, webinars, etc), what are you going to talk about when you’re out there roaming the social networks?

Whether you’ve been dabbling with social media for years or are just starting out, there’s a reason “content is king!” keeps popping up. In B2B marketing, the biggest challenge is to establish credibility and trust so prospects and the industry at large will consider you a viable resource for whatever you’re peddling.

Then there’s the issue of which social outlet to choose. The Mass Small Business Development Center (MSBDC) at Clark University invited me to give a talk last week to business owners about how to use social media for marketing and sales. We covered a lot of good stuff: setting goals, listening to get the swing of conversing cuz each network is different, developing a content calendar, etc. Every time I give a social marketing talk, the most popular question is the same:

WHERE DO I START?

The answer is simple. If you’re just starting out…FOCUS. Talk to your customers, distributors, experts in the industry. Find out what social media networks and tools they use. Then choose from the commonly mentioned ones and start listening.

>> For CONSUMER marketing, Facebook and YouTube are good places to start. Tread carefully on Facebook because it’s primarily a network for personal communications. Be engaging, be fun, don’t be in their virtual faces constantly trying to make a sales pitch.

>> For TECH / INDUSTRIAL marketing, you’re going to want to start in a different place, probably blogging and/or LinkedIn. Be interesting, be smart, and have some fun. Same rule as above, don’t be in constant pitch mode.

Get your act together on that first social media project BEFORE you start jumping into other networks / tools. If you’re creating a social media program in-house, with limited bandwidth, you need to spend a few months getting your process and content development in place on one network before you can do a decent job handling another. It will take a bit more time up front to get things running smoothly, then you’ll settle into a regular routine. You’ll know when you’re ready to take on more.

That’s one of the gotchas with social media. The conversation is fast and fleeting. You need to contribute something meaningful regularly. For LinkedIn or a blog, that can be weekly; for Twitter it’s multiple times a day. If you want obvious results, be ready for that commitment. If you just want to experiment, that’s fine, just don’t expect big things. Another gotcha is that it takes time to build your social voice and a following, regardless of the network.

Before you take that social marketing step, make sure you have your web site in really, really good shape (lots of content, updated regularly) or your social media program could end up a lot of effort for little or no return.

3 Comments

  1. I find it helps to get budding B2B bloggers to ask,”What do I (we) want to be known for?” Whether it’s being a true thought leader, industry observer and commentator, or the source of practical advice and tips, it helps them focus on their strengths and interests. And it makes for a consistent theme to the blog (Kind of like, “What’s Working in Marketing”). Otherwise, their posts will be all over the map, making it difficult to establish a voice, a reputation and a following.

  2. sharilee says:

    Absolutely, Michael. Pick a theme, then expand. Just start somewhere manageable. Many in B2B will find their blog ends up a combination of advice, commentary, and sharing expertise…all under a common theme.

    We started using “What’s Working in Marketing” over 20 years ago in our paper newsletter, which turned into an e-newsletter, which is now published in parallel with the same-named blog. It’s still us sharing what we know, albeit in more of a public conversation format.

  3. Ted Harwood says:

    There’s a lot of communicating going on, but do people still make things…real things…in America, or just talk about marketing things made somewhere else in Asia? Who’s paying for all of this chit chat and socializing?

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