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 moneyâ€" 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 offerâ€" 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 generationâ€" 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 researchâ€" 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.