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Social Media for B2B


Disclosure: I am not a social media expert nor social media strategist. And, using social media for business promotion is debatable. But, like Twitter, it looks like the idea is here to stay until it evolves into something else. Frankly, I hate the rebranding of rebranding because it doesn't add new thoughts to the mix, rather it boils the thoughts into short 140-character statements that add little meaning beyond the initial insert. It's up to you to decide if these are indeed strategies and if they'll coexist with your marketing mix. Sooner or later, your business unit or department will be tasked with the question of whether or not to add social media to how you do business with customers.

On the B2B side, we used to call this word-of-mouth, relationship, grassroots, or brand ambassador marketing. Sounds pretty boring and low budget. These all have the same expected outcome. Get the customer to proactively self-identify, raise their hand, or ask for help directly from the business. "Social" has an incredibly positive connotation to it. Communication by words, visual imagery, video, sounds, or touch is all very human. Social media is the sharing of marketing and advertising content by a means of one-to-many relationships while at the same time disguises itself as a one-to-one relationship with a customer that the business wants to learn more about or nurture over time for future sales.

The synopsis is that social media implementation deals with a) knowing your customers and how they want to communicate with you about your products/services, b) the apps/hacks/and plug-ins that are used by the social media community, and c) building the right strategy for your business or business model.

Actions to consider:
  1. Know who your customer is: go where your customers go, read what they read, see the experience through their eyes
  2. Identify the path of least resistance for a customer to get a question resolved: postal mail, fax, telephone, web form, email, survey, social media status update
  3. Legal implications and privacy concerns over what is "said" by the business and what is "heard" by the customer
  4. Understand that the web is global and that inbound customer complaints might not even pertain to your trade region
  5. Establish ground rules for participants using the same social media outlets
  6. Build consensus across the organization of what should be achieved by adding social media to the existing marketing mix.
  7. Be able to quantify the benefits beyond mere number of followers, page views, or retweets
  8. Define your social media strategy plan
How customers actively engage with each other:
  • By participating on a social network community (see Wikipedia for a comprehensive list)
  • Video sharing
  • Reading/writing/commenting with blogs
  • Photo sharing
  • Real-time (or fake time) status updates of what people are doing now
Here are some social media tools to help you manage your time:
  • CoTweet - integrated with bit.ly, allows multiple users to post to one or more linked Twitter accounts, allows real-time or delayed Twitter updates, watch multiple conversations based on keywords
  • Tweetdeck - allows simultaneous status updates on Twitter/Facebook/and LinkedIn
  • Swix - easily create a unified scoreboard of all your key social media metrics (blog traffic, subscribers, FB fans, Twitter followers, YouTube subscribers, etc.)
  • SlideShare - upload presentations and share online, tracks views http://www.slideshare.net/
  • Icerocket - keyword search across blogs, web, Twitter, MySpace, News, images, etc.
In the end, businesses just want to create more meaningful conversations with their customers.

It begs the question, what does a conversation look like between say, Microsoft and a new Windows7 customer?

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