By Jay Bartlett, vice president, Social Marketing, Xerox

Some things just don’t go away.  That tried and true road trip annoyance of “Are we there yet?” still lives on today.  My siblings and I utilized this “conversation starter” with excellent precision in years past – and my daughters continue the tradition today (my head hurts just talking about it).  Reflecting on this seemingly genetic tradition, I can’t help but draw a parallel to my role of Social marketing at Xerox, and the broader B2B social media environment.

Are We There Yet? How B2B Social Marketing is Making Progress

Having just returned from SXSW, I’m inspired by the progress made in enterprise social strategy and activation.  I engaged with numerous peers from around the globe, from big companies to small.  I also participated in the “B2B Social Marketing: Blazing New Trails” panel discussion along with Cisco and Salesforce.com. Reflecting back on the conversation, live social activity and closing Q&A, I can’t help but think about the great progress made in B2B social.  Just 12 months ago at SXSW, a colleague of mine was talking about finding “social natives” within your organization, starting with social listening and don’t ask for incremental investment.  Here are a few takeaways, which demonstrate how evolved we are and how we’re now ready to capitalize on the opportunities that exist:

1) The conversation has moved to content – and better yet, we’re focused on quality content.

2) We’re sharing best practices, based on what’s worked and what hasn’t.  And while it’s hard to shine in the “Dunk in the dark” Oreo moments, there are some really cool things happening in B2B social.

3) While we’re still talking about tools that help make our efforts more efficient, we’re now also talking about some great start-ups that are enabling us to activate more effectively.

4) We continue to talk listening, but are starting to think about it through role-based activation within key influencer social circles – hence social and PR need to be connected at the hip.

Of course, all is not perfect, as we continue to struggle with “nice to know” metrics that are hard to really pinpoint what is working and how we’re progressing key brand metrics and attributes.  Many still struggle to scale their company’s social footprint – and worse yet, some seem to be missing social selling all together.  Lastly, we continue to be hopeful that many of these start-ups, and their cool solutions, start to consolidate so brands can keep their focus on activation and engagement versus being paralyzed by a suite of niche tools.

So, are we there yet? Not even close.  In fact, I can’t even tell you how many Nick Jr. shows away we are. However, it’s a pretty cool trip we’re all on – let’s enjoy and push each other to shine bright.