Marketing is hard work. The HR suppliers that understand this make the right investments in tactics and staffing –- and social networks can give them the edge.
According to a study presented at Harvard University by the Society For New Communications Research, “Professional decision-making is becoming more social … Traditional influence cycles are being disrupted by Social Media as decision makers utilize social networks to inform and validate decision.”
That means the HR industry (and anyone else who is in b-to-b sales) needs to be participating. Fortunately, more of them are investing time and staff in marketing via social networks. Those investments are necessary — social media isn’t free. Yet measuring direct return via increased sales can be very difficult, which is why the focus should be on relationship building and sharing content.
And herein lies the perpetual marketing conundrum: How is [insert marketing tactic] going to help generate sales?
Not all of marketing works like this, especially social media — it’s more of a cumulative effect. That’s why you should engage in a variety of marketing and PR tactics. This is what companies with the competitive edge do -– from investing in SEO to producing regular best-practices content, direct marketing, media relations, advertising, exhibiting, webcasts, blogging, podcasts and social media marketing via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other online HR/recruiting networks.
It works. I say stop the methodical marketing madness of measurement and start a conversation. Get a little messy. Get the edge.
I’m a big fan of the softer outcomes such as familiarity and trust and sharing our valuable content and that of other influencers, customers and prospects. The more familiarity and trust I build with my customers, prospects and influencers, the more valuable my company becomes to them.
Relationship building helps us grow our company.
Many CEOs and business owners may not be comfortable with these warm and fuzzy concepts, but for those who are, participating in social media is all about:
- Building relationships
Notice I didn’t use the words marketing or selling. Don’t get me wrong, social media can give you a marketing edge –- albeit one that is more personable, more focused and must involve more listening and TLC than any other marketing activity you engage in.
Social media marketing is all about combining the power of online marketing and social networking so that you converse openly with your buying and influencing universe about anything and everything — good, bad and all in between.
In our latest survey report, when HR buyers were asked what social networking sites they frequent, LinkedIn ranked an overwhelming first (72%), followed by Facebook (51%), SHRM Connect (35%), HR.com (31%), and Twitter (20%).
And participation only continues to grow. An HR supplier who wants to do business with those people must:
- Know where their buyers and influencers participate in social media.
- Listen and join their conversations. Build relationships.
- Share best practice content — and not just their own.
- Integrate social media marketing integrate into their overall strategy.
How are you applying social media marketing to b-to-b sales?
Image credit, mattjeacock, via iStock