Social media has its roots in connecting people to people. Before any business began using social media as a marketing tool we used MySpace and Facebook to connect with our friends; shared pictures and stories in a more personal way than email could. This made for a natural integration with end-consumer marketing. Company A sells shoes. You like shoes. Company A can now be your friend on Facebook/Twitter/Next Best Thing.
What if your company isn’t selling to individuals? How do we recommend companies selling enterprise level software participate in social media? It’s certainly not the same way I would suggest a shoe store target their customers on social media. Below are three concepts to get you thinking about how to position your B2B company within social media properties.
Display thought leadership.
Because you’ll likely be targeting purchase influencers and even end users more than the actual decision maker, build your brand’s reputation online. You don’t need to wow us with giveaways or Twitter sales. Prove that you are going to provide the best solution for my need through not only your own research and observation, but by sharing insights from industry publications. This proves that your company stays current on industry news and is more likely to be able to answer my high-level questions.
Have a Personality
Not everyone may agree with this, but if all your corporate Twitter account is doing is spewing information at me, at some point I am going to be bored. Everyone has sat through those sales pitches where you struggle to stay awake because all you’re hearing is sales hype. Be informative but interesting as well. Business deals are best made when you’ve formed a relationship, I can go to Wikipedia if I just need facts.
Don’t be Afraid of Social Networking
Chances are if you’re in a technology or software industry, you have competitors who are also starting to play in the social media world. You don’t need to alienate your competition to succeed. In fact, you should know what they are doing online in order to differentiate yourself. But also reach out to other businesses in your area, perhaps there are local events you can rally around together while building relationships. Twitter has made the world very small. It’s much easier to make introductions through social media than out in the wild. Plus you get the added benefit of having the delete key at your disposal.
One of my favorite success stories of a B2B company using social media is Radian 6. While it’s necessary for this company to be on social media based on what services they offer, they definitely are catering to businesses without neglecting the connection with individuals (their end-users). Their Twitter account serves not only as a customer service portal, but as a resource for relevant industry articles to their over 6,000 followers as well. Just because the relevance of social media isn’t inherently obvious to all B2B companies, doesn’t mean they don’t get to play with us on social media sites, they just need to set different objectives.