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A New Way To Bring Social Media to the B2B World

On Twitter, every account has a profile page. As you can see in the screen capture to the left, the profile page includes your “bio” – a very short blurb about yourself, a background image, your number of followers, and your live stream of tweets – meaning the tweets you sent out. It’s the background image we want to talk about today.

We saw a really interesting story recently in Advertising Age. The article was about how People StyleWatch used the background image on their Twitter profile page for promoting a product (in this case Jergens). Although the example could not get much more consumer-oriented, we actually thought this was the start of a potentially highly successful way to ease B2B companies into social media.

Let’s start with some background facts. We know that many companies, whether Business-to-Business or Business-to-Consumer, worry about jumping into social media. In addition to concerns like brand maintenance and how to measure efforts, companies simply are not sure how they can find the time needed to create a successful online presence. Building a Twitter following or a healthy Facebook community takes time, consistent effort, and a lot of patience. What becomes a lesser priority as those priorities rise? That can be a tough call.

While many companies are struggling with these issues, many publishers have already begun the process of building a social media presence, even in industries where social media has not become a major force. In fact, many publishers have been on Twitter and Facebook for 2-3 years now. Because a lot of their advertisers are not using social media, however, these publishers have had a difficult time in truly leveraging their online presence for the benefit of their readers and advertisers.

That’s where our idea comes into play.

What if a B2B publisher that already has a Twitter account created a program where their background image could feature a different product monthly, weekly, or whatever time interval would be desired? This would accomplish a lot with a very simple action:

1. The publisher would have an easy-to-understand way to bring advertisers into the social media world

2. Advertisers would have a way to “test drive” social media without having to do the day-to-day work

3. Publishers would create a new revenue source

4. Ideally, the advertiser whose product is being featured would benefit from new leads

The pricing for this type of program could potentially be difficult to pin down. If the publisher does not have a large following on Twitter, it would be difficult to charge a substantial amount of money for the opportunity because, reason dictates, the featured product would not be seen by many people. On the other hand, publishers would need to price the program with an eye towards future growth. As the account grows and more eyes view the profile page, one would expect the pricing to incrementally increase.

Communication would also be essential for this sort of program. The publisher would need to advise the advertiser how many followers the account had, and the publisher would likely need to validate those followers – how many of those followers are actual active accounts? Because URLs in the background image are not clickable, we’d advise publishers to use space in their short bio statement to point to the featured advertiser’s website.

Finally, the publisher would have to make sure to drive traffic to their profile page. Once an account follows you on Twitter, that person usually doesn’t return to your profile page. They simply look for your updates in their overall stream. The publisher would need to make sure that people were reminded to go back and see the featured product.

One thing we did note about the Jergens promotion, which is still live as of the writing of this post, is that there is no URL, no call to action, and no information about the product. The background is simply an image of a product. In the B2B space, or for any brand not as well-known as Jergens, this would be a poor way to use the opportunity. The image would need to be tweaked so that a URL at the very least would be visible. The advertiser should also be advised to benchmark web traffic before and after the campaign to monitor the impact.

If your company is not using Social Media right now, would you consider this kind of program as a way to test out social media as a tool? Why or why not?

We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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5 comments on “A New Way To Bring Social Media to the B2B World

  1. You said it best , it takes time! I do the social marketing for my company, Haralee.Com Sleepwear and it is time consuming and the results are not immediate so sometimes it does feel like time not well spent!

    • If you are dipping your toe in and trying different things to see what sticks (as many “gurus” suggest) it can become even more time consuming. The best approach is to set very specific objectives and then a plan on how to meet those objectives. This often requires a little research first. Where are your competitors? Where are your customers? If your customers don’t tend to flock to Facebook, for example, you could dedicate days and days of work there to no avail.

  2. You have me thinking…this background is essentially a billboard. I’ve always wondered how someone could measure the real impact of a billboard beyond how many drivers may see it. For as long as I can remember a focus for consumer products has been on creating brand recognition. But in today’s world does that even work anymore if you don’t also extend to create brand engagement?

    • I think brand recognition may be even more important now than it was in the past because we are bombarded with so many different kinds of marketing messages every day. I saw a snippet the other day from an e-newsletter I get that B2B buyers are 70% through the buying process before they contact anyone. That means they’ve done all of their research, and how does that research happen? Perhaps a search, perhaps going to industry guides, or just remembering that they saw something about a brand somewhere. Remembering who that brand was, where they were seen, what was memorable – still extremely important. I don’t think that’s changed at all.

  3. This idea is fine for advertising/promoting the company’s products/service, however generating ad revenues would be problematic. The general concept of social media is that it is fragmented, in the main, bringing together small communities.

    Admittedly any advertising would be very targeted, however the economies of scale would not work here for the majority of companies. It could work for some though.

    The other issue is reach and frequency. The old metrics for advertising. How do you measure how many people it reached and how many times. I can understand monitoring specific click-throughs, and I could see how you could monetise that but an online billboard that is visited randomly, who knows?

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