As regular readers will know, I’m currently writing my second book. It’s been a significant challenge (they say the second child is easier, but I’m not so sure…), but it’s come on leaps and bounds in the last few weeks. So much so that I wanted to share what I consider to be the three main principles for marketers in business-to-business industries looking to harness social media.
Small communities matter – just because an online community is small doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. In fact, smaller communities are arguably more important than their larger counterparts, as influential voices are fewer and therefore carry a disproportionate weight. For example, a single recommendation for a shipping company when someone is looking to tender a £3m contract is much more valuable than ten, even 100, recommendations for the latest movie.
Virtual and physical relationships augment each other – relationships are what distinguish social media communities from other online communities and are, in my opinion, the single most important factor when it comes to using social media for business-to-business marketing. By connecting virtually with people who have attended a trade stand or event, and finding opportunities to meet with people who have connected virtually, brands can build online and offline relationships, engage advocates and detractors, and ultimately improve sales.
‘Social’ is not the same as ‘personal’ – if the social aspect of social media is about relationships – regardless of whether they are personal (friends) or professional (business contacts) – then the important thing for the marketer to understand is how people can switch between personal and work roles throughout the day. It’s a big factor in what GyroHSR’s chief executive Rick Segal calls the ‘at work’ state of mind. People can be physically at work yet at times mentally at leisure – and vice versa – but regardless of this, when they are using social media they are still social. It’s this understanding and appreciation of an audience that means that social media is used as much for business relationships as it is for personal ones.
I’m not saying that these tenets don’t also apply outside the B2B marketing space, just that they should matter more.
What do you think? Are there other things specific to B2B social media marketing?