At a B2B panel discussion yesterday at the Midwest Digital Marketing Conference (#MDMC) our venerable moderator, Steve Bauer of FleishmanHillard asked what the biggest problem was facing social marketing in the B2B space. My fellow panelists — Marisa Lather (a St. Louis-based consultant), Jeff Leonard from Wells Fargo and Nick Weber from Monsanto — answered first and mostly touched on resources and internal support. So I had to go a different direction.
I think one of, if not the, biggest problem facing social marketing in the B2B space is personality. And by that I mean two things. First, 99.9 percent of B2B marketing is stale, drab and boring. In a sea of never-ending blah noise, it should be relatively easy to stand out as signal. But no one does it. Think about the marketing for any insurance company, any financial services brand, any technology provider … it’s all the blue suit-white shirt-red tie get-up of the marketing world. When is someone going to be a serious business but stand out because they put on a polo? Or (god forbid) jeans?
The second meaning of personality is the way they engage with their customers on social channels. The sterile, company line, risk-averse, copy-paste responses are as exciting as watching paint dry. They set you apart from nothing.
My answer? At a minimum, put someone in charge of your social channels you enable and empower to be themselves on social media. Train them to be responsible and compliant, but let them tell your fans and followers who they are, share their experiences with your company and be the funnel that takes what you want to say on social and say it like a person. Not a cog in the wheel.
You’ll quickly find that doing just that pushes you along the continuum to solve the other personality problem, too.
Do you know of a B2B business marketing with personality? Please … by all means … share links and such in the comments. They are forever yours.