'BtoB' speakers focus on social media

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New York—Even engineering-focused, industrial marketers are embracing social media in their b-to-b efforts, said all four speakers at BtoB’s NetMarketing Breakfast today, as they shared case histories, best practices and a few caveats about the tactic.

Reporting on his first 90 days with telecom and network equipment maker Avaya Inc., Paul Dunay, global managing director of services and social marketing, said he had been busy transforming Avaya’s social marketing outreach by controlling and funneling an existing abundance of blogs and Tweets into a new strategy focused on a short list of objectives. Specifically, listening (to conversations), supporting (customers), energizing (the community), spreading (Avaya’s vision) and embracing (product ideas).

“We’re using Twitter as a ‘teaser’ channel, Facebook as a hub of information, forums as a type of help desk and blogs as our corporate voice,” Dunay said, adding: “You must bring valuable content that adds to the discussion.”

Panelists at Thursday's BtoB's NetMarketing Breakfast in New York included (left to right): Paul Dunay, global managing director of services and social marketing, Avaya Inc.; Robert DeRobertis, marketing director, GP DSP Division Analog Devices; Rick Short, director of marketing communications, Indium Corp.; and Gary Spangler, e-business leader, DuPont Electronic & Communication Technologies.

Reflecting on social media engagement as a business necessity, Dunay rhetorically asked if anyone would hire a job applicant who didn’t have a Facebook or LinkedIn presence. “I wouldn’t hire him,” he said.

Robert DeRobertis, director-marketing for the GP DSP division of semiconductor company Analog Devices, said he was applying an engineer’s rigor to measuring the ROI of all marketing initiatives, including those involving social media.

“You have to link your social marketing program to financial results,” DeRobertis said, noting that internal transparency helps guide strategic and budgetary direction. “My CFO knows that if he cuts one key element in my plan, it will have an impact on revenue.”

DeRobertis’ program is driven by an understanding of the customer buying processes, staying abreast of important influencers who guide these processes and aggressively featuring offers, which he calls “test drives.”

Making real employees the focus of its outbound marketing has become the key ingredient in the social media strategy of specialty alloy developer Indium Corp., said Rick Short, director-marketing communications. Indium makes a point of revealing to the world the inside workings of its company, including the enthusiasms, strengths and even quirks of its researchers and scientists.

For example, the Indium Web site features casual photos of employees at work and simple, content-rich video product demonstrations and tests. It’s an approach keenly appreciated by the highly technical Indium audience, Short said.

“Turn your company inside out,” he said. “Customers want transparency; they want the real deal. There is a tremendous audience reaction to reality.” Moreover, Indium employees have responded well to all the external attention, Short said, nothing that white paper output by Indium employees has increased 50% per year for the past three years.

But echoing comments of the panelists, Short said these activities must have a business goal. And when it comes to social media marketing, the one important metric for Short is whether or not the effort produces a contact—“gets customers to willingly declare themselves,” he said.

While social media marketing is important, both because of reduced conventional budgets and because Generation Y prospects expect it, Gary Spangler, e-business leader, DuPont Electronic & Communication Technologies, cautioned the audience to go slowly and plan well before entering the social waters.

“There’s a need to put some perspective here,” Spangler said. “The social train is coming, but you don’t have to get on all the cars at once.” For instance, he said Dupont enjoys a 30%-to-40% average open rate on its e-mails, indicating this channel still performs very well.

Spangler said marketers are still looking for sophisticated listening technology of the broad social world. The listening, however, is critical.

“The terms that your audience is using may be different than what you’re using,” he said. “We listen and integrate their terms in our SEO efforts.”


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