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Twitter = "The Emperor's New Clothes"

I am talking serious B2B here, you know when we have face-to-face meetings before deals are done. I am talking deals of five figures upwards, no shopping baskets in sight. I’m talking multiple meetings, wining and dining, a round of golf or tickets to lady’s day at Ascot. I’m talking months to do a deal not minutes.

Now let’s look at what is currently going on in a lot of marketing teams – Twitter account set up, why? Facebook page done, why? LinkedIn profile and connections created, why?
What I see is a parable based on the emperor’s new clothes. The people calling themselves gurus are taking advantage of the social media hype and scaring the good people in B2B into believing that only a backward thinking communications dinosaur wouldn’t see the benefits of social media for their business. Do you?

 We have to remember in the B2B world I am talking about, it is all about relationships and trust. Do you really trust anyone you have never spoken to or met? Would you raise a PO number on the back of a kind looking profile picture? You need to look at these new channels, purely, as an addition. After all, none of these social media channels have proven themselves as being worthy of completely replacing traditional channels, many have not even been proven to work at all.

I’m going to start on twitter:
A lot of people are all over twitter at the moment, B2B Marketing are even running some events, with some very reasonable people claiming that it is a revolutionary tool for B2B markets, that you need to be using it.

Where is your proof, on what evidence do you make these life changing claims?
Please don’t let it be based on the pure volume of users!

Twitters growth and subscriber base is impressive. When it did start to slow down- thanks to some media coverage and the heavy hitters such as Opera and Shaq -it picked up again, but are these the people you want to be talking to? There are millions of people who follow and worship celebrities but I’m not sure many of them will be managing large scale change management programmes in the next 6 months. Also are people likely to show the same level of obsession with your brand as they would Stephen Fry? Is what the marketing team at Vodafone had for breakfast going to excite the board of any global bank?

Remember I am approaching this from a B2B marketing point of view, not consumer or IT support.

If you are targeting the senior decision makers in a professional services sense, I would say your target audience is not on twitter so don’t spend hours working out how you can make your 140 character message with a link get their attention, you would probably have more luck if you wrote your message in the sky with a plane.

Not identifying where your target market is, cries out madness, it is like sending a text message to a random number on your phone, someone will read it but it is very unlikely to be someone you care about.

I see where twitter  works, there are lot of IT people on there so you may want to influence them, educate them and hope they pass your message up the food chain, but this needs to be part of a bigger campaign, for it to really work I’d recommend trying to use other channels to reach the decision maker too.

As an RSS equivalent for press releases for journalists, yes it’s very good.

All I am saying is, be a marketer, as your time is not infinite: Identify your target universe then work on your message and channels. Listen and learn but make sure it translates. If after you have been to a few seminars and workshops and still can’t see where it fits, that is probably because it doesn’t. Spend the rest of your money identifying your key audiences and communicating with them.

Next time I think I will have a deeper look at facebook for B2B.