Here’s an interesting read from Niall Cook on the Three Tenets of B2B Social Media, offering “three main principles for marketers in business-to-business industries looking to harness social media.”
Many B2B companies and marketers struggle to initially see the purpose and benefits of social media (if this sounds like you then we recently wrote about Why Social Media Matters For Successful B2B), or once on board, fail to utilise the medium correctly. In his post, Cook focuses on the social relationships within B2B marketing with three basic ideas:
1. “Small communities matter.” It’s easy to compare a B2B social world with a B2C one and come to the conclusion that social media is better tailored to consumers than businesses as customers. This is just not true when there are so many small and influential communities specifically tailored around different subjects and industries. If anything, a B2B company has a more focused group of customers to engage with. And another bonus of a small community is the trust and weight that members carry in terms of word of mouth and recommendation. Your only real hurdle is finding the right community for your business.
2. “Virtual and physical relationships augment each other.” Another advantage of the B2B world is the increased likelihood that you may have already forged a ‘real life’ relationship with some of your online acquaintances, or at the very least attended the same trade shows, have links through other businesses and companies and members. Because your business world is smaller, you have a better chance to strengthen individual relationships with clients and peers both on and offline.
3. “‘Social’ is not the same as ‘personal’.” Keeping your social activity appropriate at work is one of the first things to learn when using social media – that doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly, humorous, individual or that you can’t interact on a one-to-one level with customers and clients. Imagine you are at a conference, a trade show or a meeting – turn on that level of ‘social’ interaction when you are working online and keep both a professional and approachable face on when using social media.
We would add another tenet to Cook’s list, which is: “Make yourself useful!” Consumers approach social media from a perspective of getting a good deal, a freebie, becoming part of a community or latching on to a particular brand/lifestyle or idea. Their needs are generally met quickly and on a short term basis according to what they are looking for. Businesses, on the other hand, are looking to forge long-lasting and beneficial relationships with suppliers, industry peers and service providers. They don’t need a quick fix, they need support, advice and to be able to trust who they are working with. By providing your B2B customers with plenty of information, fresh content, plentiful advice, efficient customer services and a friendly ear, you will become their most useful asset online.
If you are a B2B company or marketer, what have you found most useful and beneficial when using social media for your business?