20 Feb

B2B + social media = natural fit

For business, words like “social media”, blogging, or Youtube don’t often inspire a great deal of confidence. Really, they are mostly associated with staff wasting time on “socialising”.

At best, social media is seen as an interesting experiment for consumer brands, but hardly a useful strategy for business to business marketing. But if you have a closer look, you might find a very different opportunity.

Social media : “Social Media is the democratization of information, transforming people from content readers into content publishers. It is the shift from a broadcast mechanism to a many-to-many model, rooted in conversations between authors, people, and peers” (source:Wikipedia)

What are the most defining features of B2B marketing? Deep, one-to-one relationships, often built through personal interaction between individuals. We build these through face-to-face meetings, telephone contact, mail and email. We network at events designed just for that purpose. We present our ideas and innovations at industry seminars, and we know the incredible value of word-of-mouth in B2B marketing, so PR is often at the top of our list in terms of promotion.

So what is the strength of “social media”? One-to-one conversations and deep relationships. Word of mouth. PR. networking. Sharing and presenting ideas. A significantly higher profile online through improved search results.

Debbie Weil, (subscribe to her blog; it’s fantastic) author and speaker on the use of social media and blogs for corporate organisations, wrote a little manifesto that sums it up nicely:

The Inflection Point of Corporate Blogging

– Blogs and other social media tools are here to stay

– Blogs are just next-generation Web sites

– Social media tools (RSS, blogs, podcasts, video, wikis, etc.) can be used by any company, large or small, B2C or B2B

– They symbolize community, conversation, mutual respect between users and an ethos of sharing

– These tools are more powerful at informing/influencing/persuading than traditional forms of marketing, advertising and corporate communications

– They help you get found online

– If you can’t be found, you don’t exist

Conclusion: This isn’t optional

You gotta start using blogs, podcasts, online video (social media) today!

The opportunity: Carving out your niche is easier when you’ve got fewer competitors. When it comes to using social media in B2B marketing, there is still plenty of opportunity for you to be take the jump on your competitors. So don’t wait. Get in now.

Looking for more ideas? Check out these blogs: Web Ink Now, by David Meerman Scott, his guest post on “The New Rules of B2B Marketing and PR”, and Publishing 2.0, by Scott Karp.

Update: Hat tip to Bruce Nussbaum for highlighting this Business Week article by Stephen Baker and Heather Green: “Social Media Will Change Your Business”