A Social Media Reality Check for B2B Thought Leaders

Guest Blogger: Elizabeth Sosnow is a Managing Director with BlissPR, a B2B based public relations firm in New York. Elizabeth leads BlissPR’s social media strategy development, helping clients and colleagues assess and maximize customer engagement via evolving communications tools.

Albert Einstein, pictured in 1947Do you think Albert Einstein would have understood immediately how to engage on LinkedIn? Would Marie Curie share family snapshots of Pierre on Flickr? Will we see Stephen Hawking tweeting about black holes? Unlikely.

Albert, Marie and Stephen embody intelligence.  But even a few Nobel prizes doesn’t mean you’ll immediately grasp how best to leverage social media.

Here’s a few tips for professional service firms who want to develop social media strategies as part of their marketing communication plan:

Social media can:

  • Deliver a more targeted (but likely smaller in quantity) audience
  • Help you better understand how people really feel about your topic
  • Identify the most promising context for your argument
  • Connect with searchers who are at a “trigger moment”
  • Gauge competitors’ intellectual strengths and weaknesses
  • Track peer website traction via inbound links
  • Lead to new business…but the laws of relationship marketing remain the same
  • Find opportunities in unexpected places, from a Ning forum to Facebook
  • Give life to a business strategy that might otherwise languish

Social media cannot:

  • Ensure that your insights (no matter how smart) will lead to a link from The Wall Street Journal or any other site with high authority…expect a slog before you get the recognition you deserve
  • Confirm that your dearly held marketing language will resonate with your target audience.  It probably won’t.  Turns out one of clients had plastered the worst possible search term all over their site – for years.
  • Guarantee that YouTube views will lead to an appearance on TV
  • Leverage a high number of Twitter followers to do anything. In fact, a high number may even mean your strategy isn’t working
  • Cover up for a weak website.  If you don’t deepen your content, wave hello to your old friend bounce rate.  People will not stick around unless you give them useful ideas about them, not you.
  • “Bust out” your white paper.  Writing a point of view piece does not mean you’ve finished your thought – you’ve actually just started.  Share, discuss, defend and amend that idea.
  • Act like traditional, mainstream media and it doesn’t want to.  Stop applying the old rules to the  entirely new dynamic of the blogosphere.

Do you have an important new idea to share?  Or is your marketing department in charge of that part?  It may be time to start thinking about if you are having a monologue or a dialogue.