Blurred signals: marketers and the social network dilemma

In June Facebook passed the 2 billion monthly active users mark. As a single site it is now the largest media property in the world. And as it grows it will continue to attract marketers to tap into this uniquely dense population creating massive opportunities for Facebook and its partners.

Consumer marketers have been the first to take advantage of the Social Media phenomena. But B2B marketers have also jumped onto the bandwagon. HubSpot, the inbound software solution, offers a social media tool to help its largely B2B client base generate site traffic by distributing content on Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+.

The Right Place to Market?

With the proliferation of advertising on a channel that used to be a place for you to browse your friends’ latest vacation pics is now progressively becoming a site where the latest Delphi drivetrain performance will be promoted to you because you once visited the TopGear page.

With such a big audience, as a B2B marketer you are surely bound to get traffic re-directed to your site, however small a percentage of the social media views it may be. And although you got some clicks, what reaction can you expect from the vast majority without which the site would not exist?

Multi-Purpose or Single-focused?

LinkedIn is one of these properties that was first built to promote one’s career by connecting with the people we professionally knew. As simple as the idea was, it worked. But with success LinkedIn started to morph. It saw multiple opportunities to exploit the professional network. Not all of it was wrong, but it created something that most of its users did not sign up for in the first place. The acquisition of Microsoft will tell the rest of the story.

Social networks provide a unique way to make people’s lives easier. But can any really be multipurpose? Is there really a one place for everything? Or should they be so specialized at one thing in order to really remain valuable and provide the experience that will prevent users to desert it?

The Roles We Play.

Psychologists suggest that as human being we play roles. At home we are parents. With our parents we are children. And at work we are professionals. And the list goes on … Playing roles require us to display different behaviours adapted to the situations we are in. And if this is true, it is unlikely that Delphi drivetrain performance video will take me down the funnel while catching up with my friend’s latest baby pics.

The format established by today’s social media giants work. Networks have the power of getting us more engaged that we have ever been before. But to be truly valuable in a business to business context it ought to be adapted to the role we play while at work.

Driving traffic to our websites only adds to the journey as opposed to making it shorter. By making it longer, it creates noise as opposed to clarifying signals. Networks can do way better – the attractiveness they have demonstrated shows that we are ready for them. The question is which site will truly address the demands of the B2B persona and how dedicated to that sole purpose will it remain as it reaches the objective it was built for in the first place.

Post by: Fabrice