And sometimes it's true, if you follow the letter of the law.
Step one: Identify your target audience
Step two: Identify where they are talking and what they are saying
Step three: Engage with them on their terms
What is my target audience? Senior partners in accountancy firms.
Where are they talking? On the 19th hole.
What are they talking about? Top secret tax avoidance schemes.
How do I engage with them? Umm, fancy a pint? I'll pay using my offshore bank card.
At first glance there are audiences, especially in the B2B world, who are very unlikely to be spending time on Twitter or LinkedIn, or blogging to an empty room. Either they are too busy, or they can't access these sites at work, or there seems to be no relevant content for them to engage with. What's more, there are definitely B2B businesses whose products or services don't exactly lend themselves to lengthy (or any) online discussion - industrial gases, invoice factoring, production-line quality monitoring to name but a few. Even those immersed in these highly specialized areas tend to apologise about the subject matter to non-converts, admitting it must seem 'boring'.
So what can social media possibly do for an audience that apparently isn't using it, with content that's too boring to discuss? I hate to come back to an over-used adage, but B2B is still about P2P - person to person, and no target audience spends 100% of their time locked in an office with limited internet access talking about obscure business products. The rest of the time, they, like the rest of us, use Facebook to catch up with their mates and regularly research products and services online via blogs, forums and video sites. With a bit of lateral thinking, we can therefore reach our business audience by appealing to their personal side, with content related to but less 'boring' than the product or service they are selling.
Take for example financial training from a B2B point of view. The people who sign off the budgets for the training of junior employees in accountancy are unlikely to be interested in discussing the ins and outs of the best CIMA or ACCA course. Everyone, however, bosses and employees alike, could potentially be drawn to an aspirational campaign dealing not with the training but looking rather at its outcome: promotion, winning the girl (or boy) of your dreams, a new car. And a campaign of that kind fits with a far broader range of social media channels.
B2B Marketing often suffers at the hands of ignorant B2C marketers who are unable to look past the sometimes highly specialised subject matter it is our duty to promote. With the arrival of social media, even the B2B hardcore have in some cases been hit by the same mental block, but more and more case studies are showing that the same thinking works here. Talk to the people and the 'boring' businesses will listen and get involved.