I’d like to use this blog post to spark a discussion on the idea of “success.” It was brought on when Arik, fellow B2B Voices writer, brought the following blog post to our team’s attention. The post, entitled Finally! A B2B social media success story, describes a humorous use of video by a printer manufacturer in Massachusetts. The “Destroy Your Printer Video Contest” allowed for submission of user-generated content that shows the best-ever destruction of their printer, which, as Office Space taught us all, is the bane of the office-place existence.
[Short pause to insert Office Space clip... can't let that opportunity pass]
The winning submission of the Destroy your Printer Video Contest was Cottage Revolution, seen below:
I’m not disputing the success of this contest, in fact, it’s pretty darn good (full list of videos is on the ELS blog…). I would probably want to learn more about how many people called back etc, and might agree that the sale reported on the blog post was probably luck, but it was definitely a great way to engage people and bring eyes to the company.
What I’d like to talk about is what “success” means. Was it the sale in this case? That seems to be so for the author of this post. However, Nathan Dube from Expert Laser Services, had his goals laid out from the get-go, as quoted:
“The focus of the contest was not ‘let’s get customers’,” he said. ” The focus was to drive more traffic to the website, build inbound links, and create good content. The fact that we landed a new service and repair customer was not our goal, but it happened.”
By all counts, this was a success. But there have been numerous, numerous, counts of this sort of success for B2B social media use. It wasn’t the first.
Look at HubSpot, for instance. They are strictly B2B with their product offering, but through an incredible content production program, they have significantly increased the awareness of their product, their website traffic has grown exponentially, and their inbound links/SEO have benefited enormously (although, that last part better be true, since that’s their entire business!). I would also add that if you asked them for their conversion rates, they do find a good amount of actual revenue opportunities from this program.
Another example that I always like is Kinaxis, which offers supply chain management solutions. To the average consumer, this is not only just B2B, but could be perhaps….a bit dry. However, their blog is one I use often as a great example of building customer and industry relations and positioning them at the top of their space. In my opinion, it’s also a great example of following blogging best-practices quite well. I don’t know the numbers behind the Kinaxis blog, but I would guess that their brand awareness in an industry where most players aren’t thinking about social media or SEO has benefited from their program. I also wouldn’t be surprised if they too had actual conversion result.
You can also check out Social Media B2B for a load of what many consider to be “successful” B2B social media efforts.
So this brings me to my question. What is success? My answer is that success first of all depends on your goals. I talked about 4 reasons a B2B company should start a social media program back in April, and many of those weren’t directly sales-related. The most important process is to decide what you want to achieve and build a strategic plan around that set of goals.
If your goals are much like Nathan’s at ELS, then success is seen with an increase in website traffic, producing great content, and increasing inbound links. Landing a sale wasn’t on that list. But that’s ok, because ELS sat down and they identified what they wanted out of a social media program. There is tremendous value in increasing hits to your website.
Additionally, the entire concept of brand equity originated because there is inherent value in the amount of reach your brand has, and what it’s level of awareness is, as well as whether that image is positive or negative. So much so that it can be a line item in accounting and is part of valuation.
But I digress. The most successful programs are the ones that go through that process of goal-setting, and their success is dependent on the decision points of that process. It’s sometimes difficult from an outside perspective to know what those internal goals are, and we assume success – or lack thereof. It’s also a lot less clear what the various uses for B2B social media use are from an external standpoint than it is for B2C.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic. Does success mean a sale? What does success depend upon? Are companies that focus on non-sales related goals wasting their resources with the program? Is their really enough value in things like driving more website traffic or creating a body of content?Do you have other examples of successful programs in the B2B space?
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