25th February 2018
Starting this week, I’m taking a mini-sabbatical from B2B marketing and I’m going travelling.
Every decade – beyond my more usual travels – I celebrate that ‘zero’ birthday by going on an extra-special trip. I’ve been helicopter skiing in the remote Canadian Rockies, on safari in Tanzania combined with scuba diving and exploring in Zanzibar, and travelled throughout the Golden Triangle of India with a side trip to the foot of the Himalayas.
I’ve recently had another milestone birthday and this time I’m off to Australia for 6 weeks! It’s been a very long time since I’ve been away for this length of time. But, since I’m self-employed, I’m prolonging a business trip into the luxury of an extended holiday.
While I’m away I’ve decided to take a bit of a digital detox and go socially silent for anything that has to do with work and B2B marketing. I’m still going to post photos of my Australia adventure on Instagram @HeidiInTransit and I may post a blog or 2 on my just-for-fun travel website (www.HeidiInTransit.com). But I’m going completely quiet about B2B Marketing.
You see, I’ve recently begun to develop something of a love/hate relationship with social media, especially for business. I used to believe that social media has the power to keep us connected to the people who matter to us – both personally and professionally – and to expose us to ideas and opinions that expand our knowledge, understanding and humanity.
But ever since the Brexit vote and the American presidential elections, it seems like everything we see online is increasingly filtered, so that we are exposed to information aligned to what we already know, and people who think just like us. Furthermore, there is just so much of it! How is it possible to take in – much less interact with – everything we read and see on our social media platforms? How can we possibly keep up?
From a purely business perspective, I feel compelled to remain ‘social’. But I’m not finding the value in it that I once did, I’m not enjoying it like I used to, and I suspect that I’m not alone in this. I still find LinkedIn an extremely useful tool, in fact, a necessary part of my business life. But Twitter and Facebook and Instagram for business? I’m just not so sure anymore.
I’m finding it more and more challenging to devote the necessary time to ‘engage’ and ‘interact’. It’s so much easier just to push out content and quickly scroll through feeds. All the ‘How-Tos’ about social media advise that we should only be posting something like 20% about our companies and ourselves, with the rest the sharing of useful or other information. But is anyone actually doing this? Most of the ‘helpful’ sharing ends up just being barely disguised promotion.
I’ve even been reading lately about a lot of people who are simply ‘unfollowing’ everyone on their social platforms. Why are they even remaining on social media?
So, I thought I’d just ask the question: what are we actually trying to achieve with our social media activity in B2B marketing? And further: is it the best use of our time and resources? Is social media now one of the ‘costs’ of doing business or is it actually an effective tool? Are we ‘doing social media’ because we believe we must or because it’s a valuable component of our marketing strategy?
I don’t have any answers. But I do believe we need to continually question what we do and why we do it in B2B marketing. Just because a certain tactic or tool or platform has worked well for someone in the past, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for us in the future.
But…so sorry, for the next 6 weeks I won’t be around for any debate. I’m taking my opportunity in Australia to go in search of serendipity.
I’ve written before that serendipity might very well be my favourite word in the entire English language. This wonderful word was coined in 1754 by Horace Walpole, after reading a Persian fairy tale – The Three Princes of Serendip – where the heroes ‘were always making discoveries… of things they were not in quest of’.
I don’t really know what I’m in quest of during my sabbatical. I only know I won’t find it online.
I’ll be back blogging about B2B marketing in May. See you then!
Thanks so much to all of you who have responded with such enthusiasm and praise for my new book B2B Marketing Strategy: differentiate, develop and deliver lasting customer engagement. My publisher tells me it’s doing really well! So, if you don’t have yours yet, check it out on my book page, and then buy it from Kogan Page publishers or Amazon everywhere.
Heidi Taylor is an award-winning senior marketing strategist with 25 years' experience of helping organisations engage with their customers, creating impact and differentiation. She is a sought-after speaker at marketing conferences in the UK and internationally, and regularly contributes articles to marketing journals in print and online. You can follow her on Twitter @TaylorMadeInKew.