This is part 3 in a series of posts from Dell’s B2B Social Media Huddle. For previous posts, read Part 2 – Community Matters and Part 1 – Social Media Trends

The B2B Social Media Business Case – Benjamin Ellis (@benjaminellis)

Benjamin gave a very grounded and detailed breakdown of how to build a business case for implementing social media as part of any communication strategy. Here’s his presentation on Slideshare:

Plenty of content in the slides to take note of. Here are some soundbites from the day, again originally shared via Twitter.

“Barely 10 years ago, some businesses didn’t think having a web site mattered…”

A good grounded start to this talk. Whilst social media may seem like a buzzword to many right now, it is simply a matter of time before it becomes just an accepted norm for doing business. In the meantime, for some it will be a steep learning curve…

“Your legal team become your new best friends.”

This comment could easily cause panic. The harsh reality is that the Internet is a very public place to be having a business conversation. For large companies and established brands, social media is going to feel like a risky activity. It is. But the alternative is no less so: “What’s the cost to your business of ignoring social media? What do you lose out on?” The big RoI questions is:

“Are you customers, prospects or competitors active on Social Media? If they are, not being there is like not having a telephone…”

2009 has been the year where some businesses started to leverage social media and achieved significant business benefits. Will 2010 be the year most businesses can’t afford not to be?

“$15K mailshot = 200 new customers”
“$7.5K billboard = 300 new customers”
“$0 on Twitter = 1,800 new customers”

Benjamin quoted @garyvee and how he grew the family business from $4 million to $50 million, highlighting that social media is not expensive to implement. But financially cheap doesn’t mean easy. To achieve success through channels like Twitter requires lots of effort and oodles of personality. It takes time.

“Your social media effort should match your typical sales cycle.”

A simple measure to highlight that a business strategy for social media does not mean a 140-character soundbite once in a while. It’s a marathon not a sprint and if you stop after 100 metres you may as well have not started. The key message is that social media cannot be treated like advertising or traditional PR communications. It should be considered an integral part of your sales and support cycles.

“Think big. Move fast. Act small.”

“Be careful what you measure.”

Two simple pieces of advice that should underpin any business case for introducing social media. Whilst you should think big in terms of what you want to achieve, the essence is in moving fast, not dithering over what tools to use. Act as small as possible – use tools that are free or cheap and put the investment in time rather than finance. Set very low expectations, at least initially – easily justified when the financial investment is negligible. But above all else, be very very careful what you measure. Having 100,000 followers on Twitter isn’t what matters. Seek conversations, not content…

Coming up next: Part 4 – Case Studies


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