A Social Media Cautionary Tale

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Blogging With Trepidation

I interview Entrepreneurs to learn from them.  My survey has 100 questions, however, I rarely have to ask more than 10 questions in an interview – the rest of the questions are answered naturally while the Entrepreneurs tell the stories of their lessons learned.

Recently, I interviewed a guy who taught me a great deal about using social media for business-to-business sales and marketing.

His company sells two network services.  One is based on “old” technology and is still used by a few industries.  The other is based on “new” technology and is used by most industries.  When I asked whether the entrepreneur’s company had blog(s), he said yes.  However the company only publishes a blog about one of their two services.  The time and energy to write a blog is significant enough that a small company has to commit valuable resources to the activity.  And through experience, he’s learned that his blog on one service category is well read and a valuable sales support tool, while the blog on the other service had no measurable value.

I assumed his blog about the “new” technology was the winner.  He had to stay out front as a subject matter expert on this “new” technology, right?  Not exactly.  Because the number of companies blogging about the “old” technology is so few, his company’s blog rises right up to the top of the searches.  For those few industries still interested in that technology, his company has surfaced as an industry expert.  However, the number of companies blogging about the newer technology numbers in the thousands (at least), and the cost and time required to have his blog surface to the top of the search wouldn’t be well spent for his small company.  They’ve given up that blog and only now blog about the older network service type.

So, I asked him if he used Twitter.  He said yes, he occasionally tweets.  However, when his company did an analysis of the twitter activity for his key industries, they learned that about 90% of the people tweeting and following tweets were vendors hoping to sell to the industry, while only about 10% were the prospects he was targeting.  Again, his analysis showed that the time and energy needed to be top of mind on Twitter doesn’t bring in enough new business.

What does his company do instead?  They work on meeting their prospects face to face, via direct selling and networking at events, such as trade shows.  The people he and his sales people get to know turn out to be buyers.  And that’s not all.  People he has met have recommended his company to people he hasn’t yet met.  The face-to-face time is critical for his business-to-business sales.

So, my lesson learned is that blogging about entrepreneurship is a dicey occupation!  Aren’t there millions of blogs on the topic?  Do we need any more?  Will there be value in writing a blog, tweeting, and joining social media networks?  I enjoy the topic of entrepreneurship so much, it turns out to be as much pleasure as work to focus on the topic.  However, I cannot overlook face-to-face networking opportunities.  They are ultimately more important when selling services to businesses.

All the best!


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