B2B and Social Media—3 tips to keep the lights on in 2010

Social media has really been the hot topic this past year between my clients and my agency—there is a good chance that those of you reading this are still chomping at the bit to figure out how social media can make your weekly PowerPoint status-slide sing.

A couple of years ago, it seemed that I couldn’t get a marketing manager to even fathom the idea that Facebook had any amount of relevance to their target audiences. All things social media, even as recent as a couple of months ago, were vocalized to me as fringe and fleeting fads that the youth and their hippity-hop cultures waste-away on—not what sophisticated business people spend time reading.

What seems to really be the tipping-point [sorry to steal a Gladwell buzz-word] in the trajectory of conservative clients accepting the magnitude of social media, is the promised impact social media can have on Business-to-Business relationships. Simply put, from an agency perspective, the golden medallion for this year is to position yourself as the conduit for B2B relationships on social networks.  For those of you that are client-side, the bullet point that shows an increase in B2B relationships and their retention are sure to put you above the rest come review season.

But before you go making promises that will give you self-induced IBS, here are a simple list of positioning rules that should keep you in line—consider it my gift to you, towards a successful and rebounding 2010.

  1. Define your/your-client objectives by how they impact the business relationship to other businesses. Do not kid yourself into thinking that simply shooting towards fan-base count will do anything for you in the long run. The C-suite doesn’t give a damn about your fans, tweets, check-in’s or followers. More often than not B2B social media is more about relationship management while also achieving business success—so position yourself to also be successful by identifying that relationship as your main objective.‘My company needs to enable partners to reach their customers through our social media efforts in order to shorten the sales cycle.’
  2. Identify what pain points your business-partner needs to solve that are influence, awareness, sales, or quality based. By identifying what specific point we desire to remedy or strengthen, we can set our creatives up for success when reaching the desired audience. Again, stay away from awareness for awareness’s sake—through friend acquisition. There needs to be a business reason to engage an audience.‘Our partners have had great product performance reviews, however their product isn’t moving. We need to enable our partner to better-know their customer-base.’ A pain-point like the one above give us something to dig-into. In a scenario like this we can develop messaging, incentives and drive loyalty that will take a product to market easier, and shortening a sales-cycle, by engaging customers earlier in the design process. This statement screams for customers to vote colors, preferences, features, etc—let them buy in early, that is what this is all about.
  3. Redefine your goals with decision-makers. Glass or a whiteboard happens to be my favorite surface to work on, and there is no better time to do it than when figuring out B2B social media strategy. Insist that you need your client—or peers if you are client-side—in the room with you working through numbers and projections to achieve their stated business goals. Simply put you need your top social media minds re-aligning click-through-rates, followers, cost-of-acquisitions for followers and cost-of-interaction for each and every goal. The C-suite might say 10,000 votes on features outlined in point-#2 are just too few—this is where social marketers show value, by white-boarding the math that will produce their stated goals and talking real business.In my opinion, the majority of failed campaigns on social networks, are failures because the goals were canonized by un-savvy executives muscling their only-strong-on-their-blog social media experts. Show your value by reaching a business decision collaboratively—don’t enter into a poor business engagement.

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