Social media popularity bubble

In the context of social media, I’m seeing a lot of talk about how this or that is now catching on like nothing before.

Not long ago, reports began to appear that the business-to-business world is turning to online marketing methods and increasingly planning to invest in social media marketing. Just today, I read an article on how video is “the fastest-growing media platform in history”. And this in B2B.

What proof is rapid growth of anything?

When B2B’s are “planning” to “invest in” social media marketing, what does it really mean? To a cynic, it sounds a lot like “we have no idea what it is and how it’s going to work, but it’s fairly cheap, so what the heck, let’s put some intern on it and see what happens”. Or, in the case of video, if you start from zero and produce one video, you have an indefinite growth rate. Wow.

I’m throwing down the gauntlet.

First, I would like to see those who tout social media marketing as a panacea to companies’ slowing performance in a stagnant economy somehow proving that those B2B plans to invest in social media have a chance to live. Success stories, please – something on a larger scale than selling envelopes in bulk to the corner stationery store (which is essentially a single decision-maker market that works just the same way as the consumer market). Or even viable plans.

Second, I would like to see a credible model for B2B’s to successfully use video for marketing. I’m not talking about “live user manuals” or anything in that vein, it’s been done for decades already. Do you really see a CTO of a mid-sized company putting on his headphones, turning on the sound on his computer and watching an 8-minute marketing pitch? Please.

So, am I just hopelessly old-fashioned, ignorant, fixated in traditional marketing methods? Rip me apart. The comment link is right there.

Comments

  1. Mark W Schaefer - November 20, 2009 @ 03:50

    Ummm … a little frustrated my friend? : )

    I don’t think any credible business person would claim social media is a panacea for anything, especially in a tough economy. I do think in certain situations it can help … for example a smaller competitor trying to battle a larger company and neutralizing the ad dollar battlefield through SM). However, a company failure is usually due to many complex reasons and tweeting is not going to fix it.

    I do believe social media is a viable complementary channel for many B2B companies but it’s not a life support system.

    Thanks for the rant!

    • Kimmo Linkama - November 20, 2009 @ 08:58

      You’re right, of course. The emphasis being on the words CREDIBLE business people and COMPLEMENTARY channel. The rant came about as semi-bitter opposition to some of the preachers out there.

      Reading around on the web yesterday I must have happened on one snake oil site too many…

  2. David Clare - March 6, 2010 @ 20:52

    Awesome article! Funny and challenging at the same time.

    I agree with your points, there probably is no significant sales rewards for using Social Media. Especially B2B. The biggest success I know of is Dell making $6 (depending on which paper you read) purely from Twitter sales (B2C)… but for Dell I am sure that amount is miniscule.

    I think companies should have less focus on the ROI of sites like Twitter, because I believe it is goodwill that comes out of it, rather than actual sales. However, Goodwill has a price and is important. So keep tweeting!

    I can not really comment on the B2B videos topic, other than a video can be turned off – and probably will.

    • Kimmo Linkama - March 6, 2010 @ 22:12

      Thanks for stopping by, David!

      You said it very well: social media are great for their goodwill value. They are also good “feelers” for monitoring discussions and driving traffic to your main site where the focus of your B2B offering should reside. That is why tweeting, being active in Facebook etc are important for all businesses.

      I’m a great believer in considering SM as a platform that can be used as a complement to other marketing methods and channels. You might be interested in reading a short post of mine on the subject at http://www.linkama.com/marketing/can-social-media-really-lead-to-a-b2b-purchase/

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