If you’re a B2B company and think that social media is primarily a channel for B2C’s, think again. According to just released 2012 IBM Global CEO study more than 1,700 Chief Executive Officers from 64 countries and 18 industries worldwide, social media will go from the least used customer engagement tactic to the second, only surpassed by face-to-face interaction in the next 3-5 years. Why? Because social media is a very effective and low cost means for connecting with customers, sales prospects, media, partners and employees.
As you can see in the chart below, only 16 percent of companies are using social media to connect with customers, but that number is expected to increase to 57 percent within the next three to five years. The CEOs in the study predict that social mediawill push past websites, call centers and channel partners as the number-two way to interact with customers.
Social Media Readiness Checklist
It’s easy to get excited about the social media hype, but creating a social media program is more than just setting up an account and waiting while the leads come pouring in. It takes a little bit of research and forethought to determine what your social media program will be before you jump in.
Here are 4 questions to consider before launching into social media:
1. What do I want to accomplish with social media?
Social media can be used in many different ways for your business – brand awareness, customer service, lead generation, building customer relationships, etc. Pick the direction you want to go in so that your efforts don’t get diffused in too many directions.
2. Where is my audience?
Don’t get caught using the wrong network. It could be disastrous. Where are you existing and potential customers, as well as your competitors hanging out? How are they interacting?
3. What do I want to share?
What kind of content do you want the company to share? What cannot be shared? Content, as always is king. Good content can come in a variety of formats such as blog posts, videos, case studies, white papers, etc.
It’s important to set up a frequency of posts and provide information which is useful to your readers.
4. How much time will I spend on this?
Although being part of social networks is free, social media is NOT free. It takes time, resources and commitment in order to make this successful. You’ll need to figure out who will be managing the efforts, be it you, your staff or outside consultant.
Social media can be a great addition to your other marketing tactics. And although you could be a user on Facebook, Linked in, YouTube, etc. in your own personal time, don’t get misled that it’s just as simple to get started. Take some time to think through the checklist and map out your plan before getting started and you’ll see much better results.