B2B professionals guide to social media
Professionals don’t get much coverage when it comes to using social media and at first glance (or two) it’s not obvious how those that are in the B2B marketplace could successfully use social media for their business.
I was doing a social media presentation earlier this week to a group of business owners and a couple of questions came up that I get a lot.
The first question was triggered by covering several examples of businesses successfully using Facebook and Twitter to promote their businesses: “Can you show us a good example of a Business to Business company using social media for their business?”.
The second question was kind of related to the first one, but it had a bit of a different spin to it: “We only sell to other businesses and for us it’s all about building relationships – how does that fit into all of this technology?”.
They’re both good questions – most of the discussion / press / examples of social media tends to focus on business to consumer types of businesses – and even more specifically it’s the type of B2C business that people get excited or emotional about (photography – especially kids, food, entertainment, clothes, etc.).
However there are great ways to use social media for business to business situations – let’s take a look at a few ideas:
Use social media to engage clients and prospects!
The social aspect of social media is a great way to connect with friends, family, people you used to work with or go to school with, but in a similar fashion it can also be used to engage your clients and prospects.
Linkedin was designed and built to support business networking…only online. Let’s say you meet a great prospect at a networking event. You hit it off, have a strong introductory conversation and agree to get together for coffee in a few days. A logical follow-up to that coffee discussion would to be link on LinkedIn which will allow both of you to keep in touch and learn more about each other.
People buy from people that they Know, Like and Trust and by continuing and furthering a real life relationship online by engaging on LinkedIn, you will accelerate or enable that process.
See what your contacts on LinkedIn are talking about (status updates, questions they are asking or answering, groups they’re participating in). Initiate activity by asking or answering questions on your own, providing the occasional status update or responding to what other people are doing. Share the books you’re reading, events you’re interested in or post a presentation. All of these are great ways to stay in front of and engage the people that you’re connected to.
Engage by educating
The other great way to promote yourself, engage clients, prospects and partners is to create interesting or educational content and share it with social media. A great example of this in an extremely Business to Business situation is the Signal Integrity blog, which is written by a product manager at Agilent to promote their highly technical product (Signal Integrity refers to the network engineering benefit their product provides…I think). The readers are other engineers in the industry who get an inside view on what Agilent is doing and why. It puts a human face on a technical product and educates them on details that might not be obvious from a standard website (it also helps immensely with Search Engine Optimization which was the biggest driver to create it in the first place).
Another example would be Jonathan Kranz and the Content Marketing Playbook. I started following Jonathan on Twitter because I thought his stuff was interesting and worthwhile and I wanted to make sure that I could keep up with him. A few weeks later I happened to catch a tweet from him about a new eBook that he just released – it’s educational, it’s well written and I got something out of it. I’ve never met Jonathan, but because I’ve been able to read his blog and his materials, I feel like I know him well enough to be able to recommend him to people I do know….and isn’t that really what you’re looking for?
Business to Business examples of Social Media aren’t as flashy as a lot of the consumer ideas (have you seen the really cool example of the BakerTweet product out of London?). But a big reason they aren’t as flashy is that business to business success is driven by relationships…relationships take time and they aren’t driven by a flashy twitter strategy, they’re driven by genuinely engaging with people over time.
How could you (or do you) use social media for your business to business professional setting? I’d love to hear some more stories and examples or just your thoughts – share them below.
Shawn Kinkade Kansas City Business Coach