I recently had the pleasure of presenting at the Sales 2.0 Conference in Boston. I participated in a panel on Social Networking in a Sales 2.0 World. Hmmm....got me thinking.
As Inside Sales experts, we are always interested in new ways to generate leads. While I concede that Social Networking does not yet have a consistently proven ROI in "hard metrics", I speak from personal experience when I say that it certainly does have a proven ROI in "soft metrics".
I read a quote on Twitter the other day that I'm not going to do justice to, but it read something like this: "If you speak with passion on Twitter, others with a similar passion will hear you." Makes sense right?
So, where should you begin? With so much on all our plates, how do we add in Social Networking and does it even make sense to add it to our daily task lists? Well, that is what we are going to talk about.
There are really 4 options for how you pursue a Social Networking strategy for your business and I want to lay them out for you (see presentation below).
The title of my presentation is "Fishing Where Your Buyers Swim." I chose this title because before you do anything else, you have to understand how, where & why your buyers are using Social Networking.
There are so many social networking sites out there...and this number only continues to grow. How do you figure out where to invest your energy?
Possible Approach #1 - Ignore It!
This analysis by Forrester clearly states that ignoring the phenomena is not in your best interest. Although the data is from 2007/2008 (here is the current research tool), you can see that increasingly B2B technology buyers embracing social media. This trend is changing the nature of the B2B buyer/seller realtionship at a fundamental level.
Possible Approach #2 - Let Your Reps Figure It Out
This one is a little scary to me. Your Reps are using Social Networking in their personal lives and are starting to dabble with it in their professional lives. But, not having a corporate strategy for how they do so puts you at risk in 2 areas.
First, you have no control over what they are saying about you, your product, your company and/or your competitors. Are they on message, are they being professional, are they articulate?
Second, if everyone is off doing their own thing, how do you measure what is working and what isn't? Defining repeatable, scalable success is the cornerstone of all great strategies.
Build business profiles on Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook and just dive in. The good news is that it gets you out there. The bad news is that you are probably going out there with a vanilla strategy that may or may not resonate with your buyers. You may also be investing time, effort and energy on social networking sites that your buyers don't frequent. This is an investment that you need to have pay off.
Possible Approach #4- Aim Before You Fire
This is the approach we recommend to our clients. You want to invest some time in research to understand your buyer personas and how they use social networking before you articulate your strategy.
You need to fish where your buyers swim!
Next week's Part 2 post will lay the groundwork for how you can use buyer personas to build your Social Networking strategy. Stay tuned....