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B2B Marketers: Is Twitter Still Relevant?

Date: January, 2014 --

Twitter has been called the biggest game changer of the decade, the worst thing since unsliced bread and everything in between. While there are certainly stories pointing to success in B2C, many coming from non-marketing related functions, many B2B marketers still question what type of investment in the medium is appropriate, if any at all. Here are some useful questions and points to consider when weighing this decision.

Are Your Goals Appropriate?

For B2B marketers using most mediums the desired end result is always the same: Generate revenue for the company. However, as the medium has matured and trial and error has been well observed, twitter has shown us that, while it may be a step in the lead maturation process, it’s still largely unproven in itself as a direct customer acquisition medium for those in the B2B space.

What Are Appropriate Goals?

Thought leadership has become the go-to buzz word with regard to justifying B2B investments in twitter, and rightly so. Therefore the question becomes whether the content you’re disseminating via your tweets has viral legs and is becoming part of the conversation. As twitter grows its userbase, content is supplied by more and more users, and overall engagement continues to trend downward, the task of breaking through the noise and engaging your desired audience comes with an ever-increasing degree of difficulty.

What to Avoid:

While it’s important to track and set goals for follower count milestones, RT (re-tweet) stats and/or mentions of your handle to make sure you are not simply shouting into the abyss, these goals should not be the ends in themselves.

What To Do:

Identify and utilize relevant hashtags for your business and Identify industry thought leaders. Where appropriate, engage them, this can be as simple as retweeting something they’ve tweeted that you like, and get them on your side. If there are none in your space, strive to become that thought leader and see what happens. If you build it and they don’t come, twitter might not be the place for you.

Scale Like Goldilocks

Whether you’re tweeting like you’re possessed, just dipping your toe in the water or have avoided the medium like the plague, you should always take a step back to evaluate whether what you’re doing makes sense. After all, we all work in evolving businesses and blindly continuing a behavior simply due to it being ‘the way we’ve always done things’ is never a good idea.

Always Keep Asking:

 Do I have, or still have, potential customers who are actively utilizing the medium? What are my competitors doing in the space and is it successful? Are we accomplishing the goals that were set? Should we do more, less or keep going at our current pace?    

One Company’s Experience

As every good marketer knows, there’s no such thing as a focus group of one. That said, we thought it relevant to share some of the B2B marketing experience we’ve had on twitter with @DataServicesInc over the last several years utilizing the medium. Have we gotten business from twitter? Yes. Have we gotten a lot of business from twitter? No. But what has been successful (a question we’ve been asked many times)?

What’s Worked for Data Services, Inc.:

If we can point to one aspect on twitter that has proven valuable, it has been utilizing the medium around industry events and tradeshows. Smart tradeshow marketers actively promote and encourage their attendees to utilize unique event hashtags (#), making for easy identification of twitter users who attend given events. Data Services’ usage of these hashtags has not only raised the awareness of our presence at these events amongst the attending twitter userbase, but has routinely generated leads and fostered to countless in-person tradeshow meetings with our business development team.

Overall Evaluations:

While tradeshow marketing is effective, our overall B2B marketing experience, even with a content driven focus, has been one where engagement remains very low, leaving us largely to regard twitter, when taken on its own, as a space where a lot of marketers are shouting into an abyss where very few are really listening.

Nevertheless, twitter is not a closed environment and one would be remiss to not mention the added value an active social media presence lends to a brand’s performance in search engine marketing, as twitter, facebook and other social pages for your brand are liable to show up on the search engine results pages of those researching your brand. There’s also the intangibles that come with customers and prospects being able to follow your brand as well as consume and redistribute your content (and for you to be able to do the same), which can be effective, relationship-building touch points.

So, if you’re not on twitter, should you be? The answer for most will be ‘Yes’. But we’d recommend beginners use a conservative approach with content marketing at its core. You may be surprised to find an active audience eager to find and follow like-minded industry brethren. If you’re already using twitter and are unsure of its merits, find out what’s worked and what hasn’t and adjust as necessary to make sure your investment is an appropriate one.