Social Media for Demand Generation...Is it more of a B2C than a B2B phenomenon?

Posted on May 4th 2010

My most recent post on social media's pros and cons drew a lot of feedback. So, I thought we should continue the “conversation” by offering a few more opinions from this admittedly old-school but open minded marketing professional about the value (or lack thereof) of social media as a demand generation medium. As always, I welcome your continued comments.

Better for Small B2C Marketers?

If you look at the biggest and most successful users of Twitter and Facebook, they seem to be B2C marketers. For example, Starbucks (@Starbucks) and Zappos (@Zappos) are using Twitter apparently to not only engage consumers with their brand but also to drive direct sales and distribute promotional discounts.

Now, it turns out that small businesses (B2C) have also jumped on the Twitter bandwagon in a big way. From pizza parlors to independent and specialty retailers, small businesses are increasingly using Twitter to publicize special discounts and promotions and solicit customer feedback and many report they are quite happy with the results.

From my perspective, Twitter as a marketing tool actually makes perfect sense for small businesses two reasons: (1) they have limited ad budgets, so Twitter gives them a way to extend their reach at essentially no cost and (2) For a small business, an increase of just 50 or so sales from a promotion can be a big deal.
 
The Bottom Line

Because social media services like Twitter require no upfront investment (other than your time), they obviously have considerable appeal. For me, it all comes down to these simple guidelines:

  • Time is money— Be careful that you don't spend so much time working on social media initiatives that you overlook traditional demand generation efforts that are working.
  • You need a compelling offer— Or people won't engage. In this respect, services like Twitter are a lot like traditional direct marketing.
  • Don't expect social media to supplant your traditional demand generation— Instead, think of it as an adjunct to your core demand generation campaigns, something that may produce bonus sales.
  • Social media can also be cheap market research— because you can use it to solicit feedback from your prospects and customers. However, remember that this is qualitative, not quantitative research, so be careful not to make sweeping conclusions unless the feedback is overwhelmingly consistent.
What are your real-world experiences with social media as a demand generation medium? What are your opinions? Let me know.   

I will review how to apply Social Media to your B2B demand generation process in my next post.
LouisFoong

Louis Foong

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Comments

Since small business is the only way of keeping the bulk of revenues within the community, it's imperative that small business has a large number of free or low cost options. Open source software is another tool that can be invaluable to small business.

Thanks for the comment RonHeimbecher. I agree. Open source software is definitely a good choice and often the only choice for small businesses.

Cheers,

Hi Foong, I really think that the best use case here is B2B, not B2C, since there's going to be a quicker tangible revenue output. If you'd like to check out a few of the crucial questions B2B brands have been asking about social demand generation, this post might be helpful.