'BtoB's' Leading Edge: Marketers must 'engage or die' with social media

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New York—B-to-b marketers must get active in social media marketing or face extinction, according to Brian Solis, principal at marketing consultancy Altimeter Group, in his opening video keynote Thursday at BtoB's daylong virtual trade show Leading Edge: Demand Generation in the Digital Age.

“It's digital Darwinism,” said Solis, in his keynote, titled “Please Stop Asking: Does Social Media Work for B2B Companies?” “You either engage or die. To succeed, you have to engage with your customers and build relationships to impact the bottom line.”

Solis, the author of “Engage” (John Wiley & Sons, 2011), said special attention should be paid to potential customers who are socially active because of their influence on others.

“You have to pursue the social customer differently than the traditional customer and learn what they want, what moves them, and build a bridge between the two,” Solis said.

Social-adept people constitute “a group with an audience of audiences,” he said. “Through their influence, they can affect every other step of the decision-making cycle for others.”

In particular, Solis advised marketers not to take “the fast and easy approach” to social media by dabbling in various sites superficially. Rather, he urged much more meaningful interactions.

“You're not supposed to engage for engagement's sake, but rather to throw out to people what's valuable and relevant," Solis said. That often means offers and discounts, but also can include exclusive access to content and the opportunity to interact with peers in sharing knowledge.

“Yes, you can trigger "likes,' follows and views; but, if you can't find what sustains those numbers, you won't be able to take advantage of the value of social media,” he said.

Almost 2,000 marketers registered for the Leading Edge virtual trade show.

Numerous exhibitors occupied booths on the virtual exhibition floor, including Adobe Systems, Aprimo, Bizo, Bulldog Solutions, eMedia, Leftbrain DGA, Mardevdm2, Marketnet, Marketo, ON24, Pardot, PR Newswire, Silverpop and VisiStat.

To access the on-demand Leading Edge virtual trade show, click here.

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