I’ve spent an interesting day, as is so often the case, here in the online world. I had a very interesting conversation with Chris Young (@chris_eh_young), Brandie McCallum (@lttlewys), and Carrie Wilkerson (@barefoot_exec) about various marketing myths that are floating about in the online world. For example, the fact that everything “is dead” is something we all agreed is really getting old. They are good people. You should talk to them.
This evening I read a post by Robert Gembarski, who I encountered by following Marieke Hensel to her blog site. The post is called How To Make Social Media Marketing Part Of Your Overall Marketing Plan. In this post there are some interesting statistics about business usage of social media marketing which made me want to do more research, and in the process of doing THAT, I discovered this rather amazing B2B research that Penton Media from here in Northeast Ohio did in 2011. I found the study via a post by Jeffrey Cohen which was just published last week. Now Jeffrey posted on what the study revealed about the world of B2B and its relationship with social media. Interesting stuff. But what catches my eye about this study is everything the survey participants did NOT know.
Here is a small sample. The survey was returned by 5,000 “executive level subscribers” 3,835 of whom said they were involved in their company’s marketing strategy.
• 41% said they did not know if their website used metadata or meta-tags
• 14% didn’t know whether they were using a link building strategy
• 14% didn’t know if their competitors were actively involved in social media
• 26% said they are not engaging in social media because they don’t know how to measure it OR were not sure it would be valuable (we assume the worst about things we don’t know)
• 32% said they are unaware of how their company is talked about online
These are, according to the study, executive level subscribers of publications that range across 17 different industrial publications that Penton Media publishes. The majority of them have at least some role in marketing. And yet, they are unaware of these extremely significant facets of 21st century marketing within their own company and in regards to their competitors? That is pretty disconcerting, don’t you think?
The really sad thing about these gaps in knowledge is that the doors are wide open for these survey participants to get misdirected in their marketing efforts. If they start listening to a lot of what is passed around in the world of social media, which often has no real basis in marketing and which is often based exclusively on the world of B2C, they may react in the following ways to their lack of knowledge.
41% said they did not know if their website used metadata or meta-tags; 14% didn’t know whether they were using a link building strategy
The lack of knowledge present in these two bullet points could easily be dismissed with a, “Well, you don’t really need a website now” answer. I see this more and more in the world of social media. There is a lot of buzz about how a blog or a Facebook page can serve as a company website or online hub. For some companies, this may be true. For the B2B world, I’m not sure it really is. The kinds of information a B2B company needs to make available often require administrator walls, dealer and customer log-ins, and more.
While SEO experts wax and wane about the importance of meta tags, there is little change when it comes to the importance of white-hat link building strategy. If you don’t even know if you have such a strategy, you and your website could be in big trouble. It would be tantalizing to think you could leave all of that behind and jump into the social media waters. I hope that companies hesitate and think before they make that leap.
14% didn’t know if their competitors were actively involved in social media
This information is extremely easy to find even if you don’t have any experience in social media. In many cases, all you have to do is Google a competitor or a person whom you know works for a competitor. Does their LinkedIn profile show up? A Twitter account? Beyond that there are PLENTY of ways to conduct searches to find out this information. If you are unsure of how to search, talk to an agency or consultant who knows how and where to look for key competitors in the online world.
26% said they are not engaging in social media because they don’t know how to measure it OR were not sure it would be valuable
Many in the social media world would respond to this and say, “Well of COURSE it will be valuable. You’ll expand your reach and the measurement will be easy to see in Twitter followers, blog subscribers, and Facebook fans.” Right?
Not so much.
Factually, there are plenty of ways to measure the success of your social media campaign – the ROI, even – but you need to have a plan, and a lot of folks in the online world find the concept of planning somewhat old-fashioned If you have a plan of what you want to invest and a goal for what you want to receive, your social medi marketing campaign can be extremely valuable. If you do your research first and make sure your plan has you working in fertile areas for company growth, you’ll be even more successful.
32% said they are unaware of how their company is talked about online
Again, this is extremely easy to explore. The new adage that “your company is being talked about already even if you don’t know it” isn’t necessarily true. There are plenty of companies who could only wish they were the topic of a Twitter conversation. But there are tons of ways to explore this online world and see if your company or brand names are coming up in conversation. You can even see exactly what people are saying about you.
Two Big Problems
The way I see it, there are two really big problems here. The first is that people in the c-suite are immersing themselves just enough in marketing to not have a 100% full grasp on it. This makes these people likely candidates for the social media silver bullet syndrome. When the money coffers are empty and the pressure is on, a silver bullet in the shape of a tweeting bird and a blogging Bonzo can look pretty good, right?
The other problem is that there are far too many people in the world of social media who will dismiss this lack of knowledge in the B2B world as nothing to be concerned about. Websites are old hat. Link building strategy is voodoo. It’s all about engaging.
What can we do about these two problems? That’s the real question.
What do you think?
By the way, you can download the study and analyze it for yourself. It’s available for free and is called Truth from the Trenches.
1st Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/uncene/385671543/ via Creative Commons
2nd Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/uaeincredible/217849066/ via Creative Commons