Of all the latest forms of online communication, social media is the youngest but also fastest growing medium of choice for business. Even in B2B, the value of using social media to engage with a target market has challenged the value of website and email marketing. And with B2B sites like LinkedIn dominated by high-tech corporations such as IBM and Oracle, this medium is definitely worth exploring if you’re also in the business of enterprise software.
This sounds like bad news for the much older methods such as direct mail and telemarketing. However, is the value of social media really so exclusive to the social networking sites that embody it? To determine this, you should first try and identify the things that appear to put social media above the rest:
- It’s not disruptive – Unlike telemarketing, notifications share the same advantage as website and email marketing. It doesn’t disrupt anybody’s day, whether it’s a busy IT manager or the regular techie playing Call of Duty at home.
- It drives engagement – When you post something interesting on Facebook or Twitter, you will attract a lot of responses. Websites and emails don’t necessarily do this right compared to social media. Websites are publicly exposed on the net but might not have as many people browsing them. Emails can start conversations but they’re often ignored due to spam filters. Oddly enough, this capacity to engage and grab attention is actually shared by telemarketing (if it’s done right).
- It’s not as messy – In social media, you don’t need to worry about having to clean a flooded inbox or a trash bin full of old marketing letters.
- It gives new insight – Plenty of people see potential in analyzing the data that comes from social media. Things like the number of ‘Likes’ and having certain affiliations have allowed even the social sites themselves to reach their targets more accurately. It also allows businesses another way to hear what customers are saying and see if there’s anything that can be done to improve products and services.
From the looks of it, perhaps the reason why social media seems to top all three of the other methods is because it has managed to integrate what worked best for all of them. It allows engagement and the acquisition of information straight from the market just like telemarketing and email. Meanwhile, it attracts the same amount of attention as a website (if not more) without being too disruptive.
In the process though, it has managed to integrate some of the biggest weaknesses. Like email, discussions on social networks can take forever. Like websites, you shouldn’t try and talk too much about yourself on your social media profile. Like telemarketing, there are still obstacles to watch out for when making attempts to connect.
This might surprise you though but even a telemarketing company can make up for those weaknesses. The reason is because there are companies like them who see the strengths and weaknesses of information gained from social networking sites. It tells them, for instance, the name of the company. It also tells them who the decision makers are and what industry they’re in. However, they also know that they need to go beyond that and try to shift the online discussions into more real forms of conversation (like those over the phone), and perhaps even ending it with appointment setting to finally meet the prospect in person!