B-to-B companies have social media capital

B-to-B companies are seen as conservative when it comes to new marketing ideas. They tend to hang back and watch someone else go first, said Elizabeth Sosnow, Managing Director, Bliss PR in an interview with The Daily Dog.  Sosnow was talking about an analysis they did of 46 large and small management consulting firms.

“This is an industry built on content, case studies and ideas,” said  Sosnow. “One big thing we found is that B-to-B firms are in a fantastic position and it’s a real opportunity for them. They’ve got the goods—the intellectual capital.”  However the research also showed that these firms are not getting that expertise and thought leadership out into the social media marketplace.

What are BtoB best practices?   Ben Parr’s article on Mashable lays out a formula that works:

  1. Build a reputation – show your expertise.  Use a blog to feature your expertise. But once you start a blog you have to keep it up. The majority of the companies Bliss analyzed were not keeping their blog content current and did not feature identified thought leaders.
  2. Research your customers. Use social media tools to do research as much as you use it connect with others.  A recent survey from Heidrick & Struggles says CMOs see digital as the medium of choice in this economy, but aren’t getting what they want out of it. Every company needs to know where their audience is online, what they’re saying and what they’re doing.
  3. Do more networking. Build the network before you needs it.   -Find people you can connect with in companies you want to do business with.
  4. Learn from others. There is a wealth of information on the web.  Find good sources and subscribe with RSS feeds.  Read, read , read.

And before you dive in head first, check the depth and temperature of the waters.  Do the research.  A social media audit gives you the data you need to make sound marketing and PR decisions.

  • Listen to the relevant conversations
  • Figure out your share of voice
  • Map the content of the conversations to your key messages
  • Identify the best opportunities to enter and participate in the conversations

Social media is a great tool for BtoB firms.  But it’s not a one-shot campaign appoach. It’s an ongoing relationship building activity.  Find the right way to start and be prepared to keep it up.

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Posted by Sally Falkow On 1 July 2009 2 Commented

2 Responses to “B-to-B companies have social media capital”

  1. dominiq says:

    Excellent article and advices. If I may add.

    What we find with B2B/ consulting firms is that very often, they have employees who are already engaged in their target communities (As an example, an IT expert would be conversing with peers in blogs, twitter, linkedin).

    In any sizable B2B, there may even be a few employees engaged with the same community.(let’s say the IT security, the cloud computing, the outsourcing communities).

    What’s not working however, is that these efforts are neither leveraged, nor coordinated.

    One of the advice I would give in addition to your points is that companies should also do an internal audit about their existing but unknown participation in their target community and put in place processes and tools( like ours – sorry for the self promotion :-) ) to ensure:
    - alignment with workgroup/company objectives
    - leverage
    - efficiency
    - consistency
    - some level of control / governance
    - measure

    The good news is that the bulk of the cost (people time) may be already spent and could even be optimized in the process.


  2. Sally Falkow says:

    Good points Dominic. Many companies are realizing that their employees are active in social media, but there is no strategy to pull it all together. An internal audit is a great idea. Thanks


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