I read recently that LinkedIn is four times better for Business to Business leads than Facebook. But while that is useful to know, what a small business owner really needs to know is how much work is needed to elicit that response. In other words what is the Marketing efficiency? Facebook was never really designed for business to business lead generation and sometimes it shows. The problem is the signal to noise ratio is very poor and the incessant demand for new content, to stay near the top of a news feed means that business owners have to invest too much time creating “new News”. The reality is that most businesses just do not generate enough real news and resort to re-writing or re purposing “news” that it, or even competitors, have run before. And it gets worse, because if your customers have spend any time at all honing their Social Media sources and favourite news feeds using clever tools like My6sense, to supply only information useful in their industry, they are likely to see your re-gurgitation as irrelevant or even just spam.
In their defence, the Social Media networks will say that they do not choose those items that become popular and stay at the top of a Newsfeed – the public do this. The problem is that almost intrinsically, News items that make sense and are relevant to a tight industry group are irrelevant to the vast unwashed public. Lady Gaga, TOWIE, or The Wanted will always out-gun even a good business story on an open Social Media network and disappear quicker than a proverbial ferret up drain pipe. Even LinkedIn, which boasts a high number of professional types among its customers and ought to be a good way to find business clients, is guilty of over promoting “new News” at the expensive of relevant items that are quality- and surprisingly this even applies to what should be industry tight LinkedIn Groups. A perfectly good industry article posted on a busy LinkedIn Group will survive for perhaps two days. And then in order to get noticed, you have to post something new- which nine times out of ten, will not be as good as your previous article in terms of generating business to business leads.
The search engines like Google are just as bad. In an effort to try and eliminate Spam, they are designed to find new articles that they assume are more likely to be written by worthy people in worthy companies with news to tell. And genuinely good articles sink never to be heard of again- until they are slightly re written and submitted as “new”.
In business to business land there should be room for a new kind of Social Media network. It so simple that a kid could do it. First, the Social Media network should be not just searchable by industry type, but offer individual customisation such that it will tune into the industry articles you choose. For example, if you are in the CNC laser cutting industry, you should be able to choose that view. Then it just requires “news” feed design that rewards articles with high rank only if the article is of good quality- as judged by readers. Sure this means that some articles may appear stale to the regular reader, but if the article is of good enough quality- it deserves it top billing- Just like Top of the Pops for business. In order to knock an article off the top spot, a competing article would have to be – better. Businesses could the concentrate their scarce resource on creating genuinely interesting articles – and perhaps even the genuine product advances that would be the basis of top billing on this hypothetical network.
True, there are are some Social Media networks that approximate this methodology, Quora for one. But even Quora likes to keep things fresh by promoting new updates as more important than just the best. And Quora has a veil of academic respectability that is slightly apologetic when it comes to generating honest to goodness business-business leads – as an aim.
I think one of the reasons we have not seen such an “honestly focused” Social Media network is that may be advertisers would not find it so exciting. It would be like advertising in a stuffy scientific journal and so how does one monetise this network? Well how about the subscription model? At one time, the Internet was going to be monitised this way, until Google and Facebook came along and everyone jumped on the “advertising supported” band wagon. But what if a social network was worth joining because it did directly generate quality business to business leads? That really would be Top of the Pops with business (to business) owners – and well worth the subscription- wouldn’t it?