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The truths and myths about B2B social media

Paul Myerscough, the director of PR and social content at our partner agency IAS B2B Marketing in the U.K., shares his insights from a recent conference. 
Christina Lood, senior manager, marketing communications (dairy), Pfizer Animal Health; David Jordan, group leader, Bader Rutter; and Greg Nickerson, CEO, Bader RutterWhen you have been in any job or industry for a prolonged period of time, those moments of healthy surprise, when you learn something genuinely new or inspiring, seem to occur less frequently. Luckily, my trip to Chicago — for the Business Marketing Association (BMA) annual conference — provided an unusual flurry of those golden moments in the space of just a few days.

The organisers scheduled the event highlights to perfection with two superb presentations bookending the start and close of the conference and one sat betwixt. During these presentations, I learned truths and myths about social media as it relates to B2B marketing:

Truth: Marketers must be lifelong learners
The first was the opening keynote by Greg Brown, CEO of Motorola Solutions. Greg is one of those rarities in business — a “suit” who embodies corporate slickness coupled with a deep understanding of the human condition.

He made two standout sound bites — the first of which was: “The marketing guy should be a trusted advisor (to the business and CEO), not a marketing guy. A great CMO will go beyond their own skill set and learn new areas to become a real change agent.”

Clients and, to an extent, agencies often forget this and pigeonhole themselves in the role of marketing and marketing alone. Here was a visionary CEO wanting more from his CMO and, by the way, getting it.

Myth: You can voice concerns after the meeting
Greg’s second quote follows a similar theme and refers to a golden rule he instills in meetings — particularly board meetings: “Silence means agreement. There are no pocket vetoes.”

This particular comment elicited a wave of nodding heads (and tweets) from his captive audience; his point being that he’s tired of executives secretly undermining their peers by talking offline about their concerns, instead of raising them immediately, face-to-face in order to ensure a timely and democratic resolution. I think we can all take lessons from this about decision-making and office politics — both within and outside of the boardroom.

Fast-forward now to the mid-section of the conference and to a wrecking ball of an opening Day 2 presentation, from Kipp Bodnar at HubSpot and his cohort Jeffrey Cohen at Salesforce Radian6. These two speakers occupy influential positions at companies that are at the spearhead of social media development, and their insights were perfectly suited for the broad audience base.

The sparky duo brought an element of pragmatism and bathos to the proceedings, after Greg Brown’s stirring speech, by explaining that “73 percent of CEOs don’t believe that marketers drive revenue.” They then spent the next hour turning that view on its head — but not without a few more shots across the bow for the marketers in attendance. For instance, did you know that the half-life of a social media link is just three hours? Or that LinkedIn is three times better than other social media sites for B2B lead generation?

The stats kept flowing and, luckily, so did the tips. Cohen, for example, follows the 10-4-1 rule when it comes to social media management. That means creating 10 links to third-party articles and four links to blog posts for every link to landing page. In a nutshell, he’s highlighting that “prospects don’t care about your products; they want solutions to their problems.”

Jeff Young, president, Bader Rutter; Robert Moody, regional marketing director (poultry), Pfizer Animal Health; and Rodger Jones, strategic planning director, IASTruth: Tell me and I’ll forget
Onward to Day 3 and the final standout presentation from our colleagues at the Business Branding Network (BBN). For those not familiar with BBN, it is an independent group of agencies from across the globe with a mutual interest in sharing best practice for the betterment of our consultancies (and clients).

This keynote was led by Robert Moody from Pfizer Animal Health – aided and abetted by his IAS/Bader Rutter agency duo of Rodger Jones and Jeff Young. The session was like a scene from a rock concert with the audience, en masse, snapping camera shots of the superbly animated slides as they flashed onto the gigantic BMA screens.

The content, delivery and reaction were all top-notch, which was encapsulated perfectly by Marissa Pick tweeting on behalf of BtoB Magazine: “If I worked at @IASb2bMarketing & @Bader_Rutter I would walk around saying BAM 24/7, love that #BMAGrow

Brand Asset Management (BAM), the process of managing your brand, is a proprietary planning model employed by Bader Rutter and IAS on behalf of some of the world’s most respected B2B organisations. But, as Rodger Jones emphasised: “We do BAM with you, not for you.” He even had a Chinese proverb to underscore his point: “Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I’ll understand.” That’s why workshopping works folks.
But, as a PR man at heart and an early adopter of social media, I must leave you with, perhaps, the best quote of the conference (and certainly the most retweeted), as said by Kathy Button Bell, CMO at Emerson and national BMA board member: “Social media is like PR set to music.”

What a wonderful thought and one that will hopefully spur you to keep in touch with this Converge blog and all things social. It’s a big world out there but, if there’s one thing that BBN and BMA have proven, it’s easier than ever to get connected.

Paul Myerscough
Director of PR and Social Content at IAS B2B Marketing

Paul is a 13-year veteran of the integrated marketing industry with a specialism in public relations coupled with agency responsibility for social media content. His background is in consumer, corporate and business-to-business PR, having worked on a range of global accounts across the automotive, engineering and manufacturing markets. He has been at IAS – the leading B2B marketing agency in the U.K. – for almost five years.


Reader Comments (2)

Great article!! I am actually in search of a good social media company to use for my company.

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshton J

Great post, thanks for sharing.

July 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersocial media tools

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