Can we finally settle the B2B social media debate?

For the longest time B2B companies have been sitting on the sidelines for social media.  Their customers didn’t engage on social networks.  They were in a blue collar industry where manufacturing specs and prices were more important.  They had a longer sales cycle.  There were all sorts of excuses for B2B companies to look the other way and continue on doing what they’ve always been doing.  After all, things were o.k. as they were so why change, right?

But there are plenty of reasons for B2B companies to be in the social media space quite simply because every sale begins with a relationship.  The better the relationship, the more solid the sale…the upsale…and the referrals.  Social media isn’t trumping the face-to-face meeting; it puts your foot in the door.  And considering the present need to cut expenses in businesses all over, it makes it easier to do chat, share whiteboards and do video conferencing.

So for 2011, can we get pass the should-I-or-shouldn’t-I debate and get right into what B2B involvement in social media looks like?

  1. Get upper management buy-in. There are plenty of case studies out there.  Build a case for your business and present to upper management.  Propose trying it for a limited time.  Just make sure that you give yourself enough time to cut yourself off when gaining momentum.
  2. Yes, Virginia, Facebook IS for B2B. While B2B customers can usually see the value in social networks like LinkedIn or Twitter, Facebook is usually a stretch for them.  Don’t let it be.  Just because your client works on engines doesn’t mean that he’s not on Facebook posting pictures of their new baby.
  3. Laugh a little. Nothing grabs someone’s attention or goes viral like a bit of humor.  Just because you crunch numbers all day, doesn’t mean that you social media presence needs to look like you also suck on lemons.  Humor can be found in anything.
  4. Socialize! Don’t just talk about your new widget or your fabulous customer support.  Congratulate customers on their key achievements, make the boss’ dog the company mascot and post pictures, even talk about the weather!  We all know you’re not a computer so be a little human and socialize.
  5. Don’t give up. What?  Your sales didn’t triple in a month?  Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.  Be patient.  Tweak parts of it until you get it right.  Hire a consultant, check out blogs, educate yourself.  You could be doing something wrong.  This doesn’t make social media bad for B2B.  Learn, adjust and keep at it.

There is a place for B2B on social networks whether it is Facebook or LinkedIn.  Don’t let the unknown or the lack of players in this space give you stage fright.  According to an article by eMarketer, B2B companies will only be increasing their marketing dollars in the online space in the coming years.  Make 2011 the year your B2B takes its place on the social networks.

* Need help in doing so?  Zig !t Marketing is here to help your business develop a successful social presence online.  Call us at 419-318-9881 for a consultation.