Wondering Out Loud

Setting objectives in B2B social media

I was digging through old blog posts the other day and came across this one Mark Schaefer’s {grow} blog. A bit more than one month old, it asks a simple question: Can social media be successful in B2B?

Mark’s position can be summed up in the following excerpt:

Demonstrable B2B results are scant unless you define success as “number of mentions” or “number of hits.” How is it driving top line growth?

Mark asks the wrong question because he’s thinking like the marketing professional he is. If I used his definition as a measure of social media success, then the social media program I have managed as SoftBrands for 18 months would be considered a failure. But I know, and management knows, it has been a success.

Before launching our social media initiative, I set very clear objectives. Growth was not among them because this is not a marketing program; it fits much better in the area of public relations. That’s not to say there isn’t any spillover into marketing, but any that does occur is a fringe benefit.

My goals were pretty simple:

  • Increased credibility
  • Thought leadership
  • Promote industry expertise
  • Improve media relations
  • Increased brand awareness

I won’t bore you with the statistics, but eighteen months after launch, I can say definitively we have succeeded all categories. The blog is being read by the people I want – business partners and key industry people –and press inquires for interviews have increased dramatically. In addition, I have access to people that I would not have but for the blog, podcasts, Twitter, etc.

The bottom line is simply this; success is achieved by fulfilling the objectives you set. Objectives are set by the department that owns your strategy and will look very different coming from marketing than from public relations.


June 20, 2009 - Posted by | Social Media | , ,


  1. This is a great post — I do have seen social media used effectively in B2B companies. You have hit key points — especially credibility. B2B companies tend to have long sales cycles and their prospects require different information at different points in the cycle. Social media can facilitate this process. One needs to have a long term view, social media takes time to develop a following.

    Comment by Frank Strong | June 21, 2009 | Reply

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