Social media and thought leadership: The virtuous circle for B2B marketing
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As B2B marketers invest more money and time in both thought leadership and social media, they risk missing a great deal of potential benefit they can achieve by bringing the two together in a holistic way.
All too often, at least in my experience in the tech sector, marketers investing in thought leadership view social media primarily as a channel for disseminating content.
They get the idea that social media is important, and that relying on traditional media channels (including email and websites) to promote their ideas is no longer enough.
As such, they're beginning to slice and dice thought leadership content into blog posts, tweets, videos, and the like -- and use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, SlideShare and other platforms to promote that content as widely as possible in the social sphere.
This all seems fine, but I think it's far too limited a view.
In fact, isn't this just a more refined version of the same old one-way broadcast mentality? Ponder big thoughts, maybe do some research, put together a presentation or white paper, and then release it to the world and wait for the acclaim and customer inquiries to come rolling in.
"Going social" with content gives it a better chance of being seen, but a more collaborative approach to understanding customer issues and creating new Points of View before even creating any content greatly raises the chances that customers will actually care.
Socializing every aspect of the thought leadership process requires a more fundamental shift than just reformatting content and creating a longer checklist of places to publish.
It means letting go of the notion that you have all the good thinking locked inside your organization, that you shouldn't publish anything until it provides all the answers, and that thought leadership is about you talking and customers listening.
It means taking the zeitgeist of social media seriously, that it's not a "channel" at all, but a way of thinking and doing business based most of all on listening, sharing, and collaborating.
The reality is that lots of great thinking and experience lie outside your organization (to say the least), customers and partners want to collaborate in developing new approaches and solutions, and the best way to demonstrate expertise is to ask the right questions and facilitate ongoing conversation.
The virtuous circle of social media and thought leadership includes five main elements, discussed below:
Make sense? What do you think?
Rob, Excellent article. I particularly liked the collaborative angle. In my experience collaboration with customers via round tables has been difficult because the company tries to over manage the process. It takes too long to set them up and they just don't meet as often as you want them to. But the results are alway good - particularly in helping a firm chart a thought leadership strategy. Social media is a great way to jumpstart those efforts. Anyone out there have any examples they can share. Thanks, Mark