In the first part of this blog, I explored how a fear of losing control is stopping corporate executives from developing their business through social marketing. This fear means many organizations still lack a good social ambassador, something which is giving many consumer brands an edge on the competition. Far too many B2B executives still see social marketing as a gamble where they could lose everything.
Yes, the stakes are high. But this should give businesses even more reason to join the social marketing game – or they will lose out in the race for market share.
Putting executives’ fears aside, it is clear that social media is blurring the lines between consumer and B2B business mentalities. B2B and consumer products will always be different, but the way these businesses communicate with audiences and approach marketing strategy is converging. In turn, audiences want – and expect – to see more authenticity and immediacy from the organizations they follow online.
In social channels, brands must communicate on a more personal level. Corporate message just won’t fly. People want to identify with a brand, understand the value it can bring them, and be entertained all at the same time. It’s a fine line to tread between peer and professional tone, but if brands succeed the payoff can be huge.
Achieving this delicate balance is where social ambassadors come in. Giving a business a face and personality is just one way to communicate in a more authentic way online. Social ambassadors should be not only confident and capable in the relevant social channels, but also have a solid understanding of their business’ vision. Executives taking up the mantle of being the company’s “face” need to establish a voice that is authentic and personable, but which doesn’t lose sight of business goals.
So how can corporate executives overcome their fears and become confident social ambassadors? They can start with these practical techniques:
- Stop, look, listen. Keen observation has probably helped most senior executives get to where they are today. Now they need to use these same skills online. By listening to social chatter from their customers, their competition, and their own brand, executives can work out for themselves what works and what doesn’t.
- Share and share alike. Interacting with their peers online, executives will begin to see the worth of social marketing as a positive communication tool. Once they’re more confident, they can start conversations with partners and customers – even competitors. Ambassadors must remember that social marketing isn’t about racking up likes and shares, it’s about having more meaningful conversations. All of this helps to present your brand as a trusted and helpful authority rather than fumbling for free publicity.
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Corporate executives should start with small initiatives where results can be accurately measured, not huge projects. Before launching a social presence, make sure achievable goals are set and messaging is agreed. Start small, but think big.
Remember when e-business was the next big thing? Now that concept is a business reality, and it’s social marketing’s turn to become the new norm. Social marketing will soon become an everyday consideration for executives, rather than a looming threat on the horizon. Oracle’s own president, Mark Hurd, was initially hesitant when it came to social. But since becoming a LinkedIn Influencer, he’s been starting his own productive conversations online, and is discovering how powerful social media can be.
Lots of business “experts” say you can’t measure the ROI of social. If you ask me, they’re wrong. Social marketing can definitely be a factor in commercial success. Instead of worrying about how social media could negatively impact the business, senior corporate executives should simply show the board how social marketing can boost revenues.