Is limited internet access an issue when engaging businesses with Social Media?
I was recently talking on Social Media Marketing for B2B at a conference when I was asked the following question:
'Many of my clients and potential clients work for financial and government institutions, where internet access is limited, and sites and tools such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are forbidden. What's the point of incorporating Social Media into your marketing strategy if your target audience can't use it at work?'
My first reaction was to rail against 'big brother' companies, limiting their employees' access to harmless but useful information, but this wasn't going to solve anything, let alone answer the question. Instead, I answered with another question:
'Even if they did have access to these tools at work, do you think that this is where they would use them, and would it be the only place they would use them? Don't forget that B2B is still about People to People, and most of us access the internet at home as well as at work.'I for one don't believe that people only use Social Media for work purposes whilst at work, and this is why I don't believe that there are particular B2B audiences that are 'immune' to Social Media marketing. With the latest ONS Survey revealing that over 70% of UK households have Internet access at home, and with the proliferation of mobile internet access, work for many people is not limited to the workplace, and many of us take advantage of those quiet evening hours to catch up with research, reading and yes, those blogs and forums we can't read during the day. Mobile internet has also given those blocked at work from tools such as Twitter a workaround - who's to know whether you're sending a text or Tweeting about your latest inspirational thought?In the end, however, the only real way to discover if your audience is using Social Media and therefore whether they can be engaged in fruitful conversation, is by listening. Set up some basic monitoring (client and competitor brand names, target keywords), and see what turns up over a 2 week period. In the case of the person who asked the question, the key would be to see if relevant conversations are taking place, and also at what time of day. If there is activity, I think they will be surprised to find that many of those 'illegal' sites are being used, even during working hours, but above all in the evening. Whatever happens, they will certainly gain some very useful information.