In my post on 6 Steps to Getting Control of Social Media, I mentioned the concept of an upside-down funnel.” I thought I’d spend some time explaining it in this post.
As with most new technologies, social media is starting to settle in and common applications of the platforms are becoming known. In many large B-to-B organizations, that means social media is finding a home in the marketing communications group, often landing in public relations.
That seems fine for B-to-C organizations; however, I’m convinced that it’s the right spot or the only spot for social media in B-to-B companies.
The Upside-Down Funnel
In most B-to-B organizations, corporate marketing’s role is related to driving top—of-the-funnel activities. From advertising, PR and now social media, the focus is on creating awareness and hopefully driving consideration and preference.
There is another opportunity that may not be considered a part of the funnel where marketing, in particular social media, can play a valuable role.
It’s at the very bottom of what I refer to as the upside-down funnel. To find such an opportunity, you have to think about a funnel that starts once a prospect becomes a customer.
Just as a sales funnel has stages, so does customer relationship management (and I’m not talking about the technology). Companies should be actively pursuing strategies and tactics to retain, expand, grow and then leverage customer accounts to win business.
This is where I think the sweet spot is for social media in B2B. Here’s why: Social media is about consumers selling to consumers or profession to profession. If a company does its job of nurturing and retaining customers, it should be able to transition from having a relatively unknown prospect, to a known customer, to hopefully, a well-understood customer advocate … at least that’s the goal.
If a company enables those customer advocates with social media, it gives them a platform to spread the good word. The potential of this opportunity is huge and, for the most part, being missed at most companies today.
As we all know, word of mouth is the most effective marketing there is. Combining it with technology creates scale and the ability to track it.
To do this successfully, companies have to first identify this opportunity within their organization; second, they have to change their current way of thinking about social media beyond its present use in marcom and PR.
It means finding uses and opportunities within sales and customer service. Yes, listening to customers chat about your service on Twitter is important, but I’m talking about creative ways to use it for (1) customer-to-customer referrals; (2) community building; and (3) facilitating user groups. The goal is to find ways to emotionally connect avid customers to the company and/or products, and then provide them with an outlet to communicate that passion.What to Do
As relationships deepen, customers begin interacting in more personal channels. Through those interactions they are likely to share more intimate details about themselves and their relationship with products/services and the company. Companies have to be able to collect this information across channels to create a complete profile of a customer. If this can be achieved, an organization has everything it needs to begin enabling, influencing and studying customer advocates.
Finally, watch out for the silo effect. Typically, at least three different organizations interact with the customer as the relationship develops. But it’s only one customer interfacing with what the customer expects to be one company. The organization has to be in sync because the last thing a company wants is to provide a customer with a platform for communicating the wrong message. Turning an advocate into an adversary is not the goal.Scott Gillum, Senior Vice President, Practice Leader – Channel Marketing, gyro
*This was originally posted on Scott Gillum’s blog, http://b2bknowledgesharing.blogspot.com/