Social Works for B2B, So Get Over Yourself

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It’s never going to stop. There are those that still don’t believe that social media is an effective strategy for B2B marketers and probably never will be convinced. And that’s OK. Those of us who do believe in social will keep pushing the boundaries of modern demand generation best practices while others will just continue to cry out in opposition until the last person listening turns out the light.

I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that social media can be a tremendously effective strategy for B2B. I admit that I am in a unique position; I get to market to marketers. Being a marketer myself, I don’t see how that could get any better. But, I didn’t just wake up one day suddenly convinced. It took a tremendous amount of time and a lot of trial and error to find out what works for Marketo in particular. But what I have learned and failed on, can surely be lessons for other to build upon right?

I am constantly challenged by others, usually B2B purists, on the effectiveness of social. I hear the same thing over and over again: “Your case is unique and you absolutely have no right to give a blanket statement that your strategy works for all B2B marketing.” That is absolutely correct. But the same people who are questioning my strategy and its results, are not in the social media trenches out on the front line doing their best to find a way to apply it to their particular industry. It seems that they just like to fight the idea in general. My answer to them is always the same: take the ideas, tactics, and overall strategy that I have had success with and make it your own. I mean, that’s what I did when I came to Marketo over a year ago.

The Importance of Trial and Error

he thing that I think people fail to overlook is that you can’t just say “oh we tried social for B2B and it didn’t work”. That’s like saying “we tried direct mail once.” You have to test, measure, refine, etc. If you take a half–baked approach to social and then when it doesn’t work, throw the baby out with the bathwater, that’s the type of thinking that will do us all in. The reason I believe people are successful starts with the discipline that is put into their strategy. Pay attention to what people respond to and do more of it. Don’t just throw sh*t out there and hope it will stick.

The idea I am trying to get at is this: the best marketers in the world don’t make excuses, they pave their own way and share what they have learned along the way. They are not afraid to take risks and even more importantly they are not afraid to fail. Removing the term “failure” from a marketer’s vocabulary gives them the freedom to break free from the status quo, and that’s when the real magic happens. Then you have a smart marketer who is primed for turning heads, making some noise, and inevitably changing the world.

At the End of the Day

The folks that have truly inspired me as a marketer, such as Seth Godin, Jay Baer, and Chris Brogan, are the ones that inadvertently taught me how to be a forward thinking marketer. Seth taught me to be a linchpin, while Jay taught me how to not over-hype things, and finally Chris reminded me to be human. Although I have never really spent much time with any of them personally, I read their books, their blogs, and their feeds on Twitter. It’s a full marketing education in real time. Find the people who can inspire you and spend some time learning from them. Hopefully you will find yourself with less time to fight other people’s ideas and instead start working on better ones.