1-800-DEBUNKED: Social Media Marketing Myths, Pt. 1

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There are times when I’m talking to people in the PCB industry and I feel like I’ve been teleported into the film This is Spinal Tap. I’m extolling the virtues of social media marketing and they just want to show me how their amplifier goes to 11. Well, your amplifier isn’t any louder just because you’ve relabeled your volume dial to go to 11. And the same rules of business that apply to everyone else, apply to you, too.

So, with that in mind, let’s review some social media marketing myths. It’s too hard to use. It’s not worth the effort. Translation: We’re too lazy or maybe we’re just not very bright. Are you seriously going to tell me you’re not as smart as the high school kids on Facebook, or the celebrities on Twitter? How can you be running a business if you’re not smarter than these reality TV stars? Social media isn’t hard. These social networks are just tools; they’re platforms for getting your message out to your audience. And different audiences and different messages require different tools. Twitter is better than Facebook for some things, and Google Plus is better than YouTube at others. And because the cost to entry is low, it’s easy to experiment and see what works. Where people and companies make mistakes is in failing to understand that the purpose of social media is different from their other marketing efforts like advertising and trade shows. The same message won’t work. Once you realize that, this stuff is actually pretty easy. So repeat after me: “I’m just as smart as Kim Kardashian.” OK, maybe it works for B2C, but not B2B. In this case, I’ll use some empirical evidence: Northrop Grumman. Yep. Northrop Grumman uses Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The Facebook, Twitter and YouTube icons are right there on the front page of their website. Now perhaps you know some consumers who are buying their own Global Hawk drones and keeping them in their backyards (the 116-foot wingspan is a giveaway), but I don’t. And while Northrop Grumman undoubtedly has a lot of money in their marketing budget, they’re like any other company. They want maximum return on the money they spend on marketing. And Northrop Grumman wouldn’t spend it on Facebook (where they have over 12,000 “likes”) unless they thought it worked. And of course it’s not just Northrop Grumman; companies like IBM and Cisco Systems also use social media. Do you think these people just decide to toss a million bucks into Twitter without thinking long and hard about it? The bottom line is the bottom line. These B2B companies wouldn’t be doing social media unless they found it was working. We can accomplish the same effect with cold calls. Yikes! You really mean that? Cold calls have an effectiveness rate of 1 to 3%. That is, of every 100 people that you actually talk to--not tried to talk to and got voicemail--one to three calls will result in a meeting. And 97 to 99 calls will result in someone becoming irritated with you. Or you could use social media and develop relationships with a portion of those 100 people who develop a bond of trust with you over time, resulting in more leads with a higher close ratio. Continuing reliance on cold calls represents a comfort zone, particularly for older sales managers (“well, it worked for me!”). But not for younger people who don’t have your experience of elbowing dinosaurs out of the way to get in to McDonalds when you were a kid. Take advantage of the technology; don’t hide from it. Next week: More myths! The debunking squad is on a roll.

Bruce Johnston is a sales consultant specializing in social media. He has more than 25 years experience in high tech sales and management, most recently as general manager of a PCB manufacturer. He can be reached through www.practicalsmm.com or through his profile on LinkedIn.


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