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The Business of Social Media

I presented the opening address at the recent B2B Marketing Forum for technology in London – essentially addressing a technology audience about the use of digital technology. Well, call me picky, but it struck me that I may well end up teaching my grandmother to suck eggs. If anyone should be fully aware of the potential benefits of using technology within their marketing communications, it would be this audience. So I took the liberty of adjusting the topic to the use of social media technology in the B2B space.

We’ve heard a lot about social media in B2B and indeed dipped a toe into the social waters. But finding actual stories about ‘here’s what we did and here’s what happened,’ are somewhat thinner on the ground. All talk and no action. So I used a story of a project that I had just finished to help the delegates understand the audience engagement opportunity that social media is creating – in this case a blogging platform. It wasn’t the technology that was the subject of the story, it was the outcome.

I gambolled about the stage demonstrating how, with the right content, tone and audience, a community of thousands could be engaged almost instantly. In this particular case, 20k unique hits were recorded on the blog site in 10 days, attracting over 800 visitor comments, also in just 10 days. I was still suffering from sleep deprivation having become ‘a blogger’ for the 10 days, which, let me tell you, is very different from writing the occasional blog, but that’s another story.

There were some good messages in my presentation too (if I may be so bold). Don’t underestimate the speed at which messages spread through the network – thousands of hits in the first 24 hours are achievable (even if surprising). Don’t try to predict the response – but be prepared to respond. Don’t assume you know what the customer wants – adjust the channels and content in real time. All good stuff.

At the end of my presentation, after the cheering and rapturous applause had died down, I was introduced to one of the delegates waiting to speak to me.

“Hello, I’m Scot McKee.”
“Yes, I know – you’re the guy who does the ‘Waterloo Bridge Report’ on Twitter.”
“Oh, eh, yes I am. You’ve seen that?”
“It’s genius! I follow it every week. Brilliant!”
“Right. Good. Umm, thanks very much…”
We chatted for a while, but I had to rush off to my next pressing engagement at the bar.

The Waterloo Bridge Report (#WBR) is a piece of trivia I have been tweeting for a few months. Once a week, on a Friday morning, I post a single tweet (140 characters or less) relating to whatever I see on Waterloo Bridge as I walk to work. Sometimes I attach a photograph. After the first few weeks, people started asking when the next one would be posted so I kept going but thought little more about it. Until the comment at the B2B Marketing Forum.

As I propped up the bar and shared my iPhone charger with an orderly line of power-starved delegates, I checked the analytics for my Waterloo Bridge Reports. It turns out that every time I post a #WBR, hundreds of people check out the comment and photograph. Not a few, not a handful – hundreds. My social media audience was engaged and I didn’t even realise it. Not only that, but, whatever I think, the audience has decided to latch on to the most random piece of bollocks I happen to have conceived. There’s a lesson there for us all.

I am the Managing Director of a top B2B brand and digital agency. I am THE AUTHOR of a #1 bestselling B2B book. I am a legend in my own lunchtime. Trust me, I tweet a load of random bollocks, but the #WBR is the one my audience likes.

They like it enough to attend conferences and remind me. They tell me at meetings. And they tell me again when they issue the Purchase Order. To some, Social Media is, and will remain, random bollocks. But to the more forward thinking brands, audience engagement equates to revenue. Personally, I’m of the considered opinion that random bollocks can also equate to revenue. Consider this my ‘view from the bridge’.

Scot McKee
Managing Director
Birddog Ltd.
+44 (0)20 7323 6666
twitter: @ScotMcKee