When Does Social Media Become Marketing?

I remember a conversation I had with a colleague about 15 years ago when the Web was starting to become a mainstream part of our daily business world, especially in the high tech market. The person said that the Web was simply another distribution channel and she somewhat downplayed the importance that the Web would have in our daily lives. Boy was she wrong.

Fast forward to today and you have a much different picture. The Web is critical to our daily business lives, both in the B2B and B2C worlds. But it cannot be done in a vacuum. As analyst firm AMR said in a recent report, “Two thirds of B2B marketers believe that online must be complemented by traditional marketing activities.”

I’ve read articles and heard from multiple companies that “we need a social media plan.” The reality is this cannot be done as a standalone effort – it must be part of a larger marketing strategy. With experts like Forrester Research predicting a doubling in B2B interactive marketing spending by 2014, forward-thinking B2B and B2C companies need to continue to strengthen their online and social media talent with a combination of in-house and external resources. Sadly, BizReport says that 60 percent of B2B firms have no staff dedicated to social media compared with 54 percent of B2C players. Why is B2B lagging here?

My feeling is that we live in a results-oriented business community, not to mention a results-oriented society, which means we need numbers and validation. Gut instinct is fine but it’s hard to argue for social media-savvy staff members to the C-level executives if you can’t justify the benefits. To date, it has proven challenging to directly link things like re-tweets or blog posts to increased sales, especially for big-tickets items like database software or bulldozers.

Social media can be a great tool to help companies connect with their customers, partners and industry influencers and has potential to drive revenue growth. Whether you use an outside agency or take it in-house, a successful social media strategy must be part of the overall marketing plan for your company backed with real metrics.

How do you see social media strategies changing as they become an integral part of your marketing plan?

Rob Goodman

Author: Rob Goodman

Rob Goodman is a communications professional with more than 27 years of experience in public relations, marketing and content creation.