Thursday, April 23, 2009

B2B and Social Media. Does it mix?

Of course, social media is the buzz. And I do a lot of B2B work (business to business) so clients are always asking if social media in B2B makes sense.

I think it definitely can work for B2B. It's very much more so the realm of B2C (business to consumer). But for B2B, like B2C, it's all in making sure you know what your goal is, who you're talking to and that you're ok being honest, transparent and possibly hearing negative feedback.

Ewwww, scary stuff that negative feedback. But c'mon, you think just because you don't see or hear it doesn't mean it isn't out there? These days its about accountability. Clients and customers rule brands. It's all on their watch. They pick a brand, you as a marketer don't sell it to them or force feed it down their throats.

So yes, B2B can use social media to its advantage as much as a company selling t-shirts or shoes.

Because social media is all about having a conversation, that means a two-way dialog, with your target prospects online instead of face-to-face. And most B2B marketers understand face-to-face selling with their products or services. It's how business gets done. Relationships, right? And social media is exactly that, except you aren't "selling" as much as you are engaging and discussing something other people are interested in talking about with you. Common interests connect. So why can't that work for B2B, too? It can.

B2B Online did a study that I thought was relevant here. The study found that 26% of people polled said that they used a social networking site as a marketing channel, with another 22% saying they plan to do so this year.

Social media can help you deepen your relationship with your clients and customers. You have wikis, podcasts, widgets, webinars, blogs, you name it. So use these tools! Again, use them correctly.
1. Know who you are talking to and make sure what you have to say matters to them
2. Do be honest and transparent. Or you will get busted by your audience. And you do NOT want the reputation of being dishonest.
3. Don't freak out when and if you get some "negative" feedback. LISTEN to it. Maybe it can help you. The whole point of social media and networking is to listen and talk. Two-way dialogue. You can actually create more loyalty when you have an issue and then fix it or address it through your social media channel.

It kind of all boils down to this for me, which has and always will be my mantra for B2B marketers: People want to do business with people. Not big, boring, stuffy soulless entities. And social media is a way for a businesses to become real people.

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