Identifying The Best B2B Social Practices

Identifying The Best B2B Social Practices

By: Shelly Kramer
May 2, 2012

Best B2B social practicesBy now, surely you get it—your business needs to have a social presence and a larger digital marketing strategy to succeed in today’s socially driven digital landscape. Yet knowing that is only half the battle; you’ve got to identify and implement best practices, too.

Digital and social strategies are critical regardless of whether your company is B2B or B2C, but B2B marketers can learn a lot about best social practices from their B2C counterparts.

That topic sparked a lively discussion during today’s Social Media Group webinar: What Are The Best B2B Social Practices Right Now? Featured speakers included Jonathan Becher, CMO of SAP; Jason Breed, Global Lead for Social Media at Accenture; Paul Gillin, writer, speaker and online marketing consultant; and moderator Maggie Fox, founder and CEO of Social Media Group.

An Organizational Shift

Social strategies are typically viewed as outward-facing plans, with one of the goals being to encourage and maintain conversation with customers, clients and prospects.

Yet the critical thing to understand about a successful social strategy is that it requires an internal approach, too. Jonathan offered an example of what SAP is doing to encourage internal involvement—the creation of an internal portal site, “What Makes Me Run?” that helps employees tell the story about who they are and “how that ties to the overall corporate value proposition,” he says.

After all, if your employees aren’t on board with what you’re doing, how can you expect those outside your company to care? Your employees are, in essence, your brand ambassadors, and it’s important to not only treat them as such, but also train them to effectively use the available tools to tell brand stories and interact with customers. Paul mentioned several great examples of this approach, including Sprint’s Ninja program, as well as similar programs from Pepsi and Dell.

It’s All About Value

You’ve probably heard marketers talk about the shift from push to pull—and we couldn’t agree more. Companies are no longer pushing information out to customers—instead, they’re using digital strategies and social platforms to pull an audience to them with relevant, engaging messages.

“Social media is THE way to create a pull funnel,” Jonathan says. “You’re helping people buy, and if you haven’t thought that through, that’s an important mindset shift. Social is at the heart and center of that.”

Because you’re pulling people in to help them make purchase decisions, that means you need to provide value on your social channels so that they can better and more easily make their decisions. The downside to the ongoing proliferation of social channels—and companies using them—is that the signal to noise ratio is making it harder to find interesting content, as Jonathan points out.

Content Is Critical

If you provide valuable information that educates, informs and helps the customer or client, you’ve got a much greater chance at success. And that’s where content–and a content strategy–come in.

“Relevance is such a key point in the signal to noise ratio,” Jason says. “Being relevant is more important than shoving out tons of content.”

Just as you break down the silos in your company in order to help multiple departments become invested in the digital and social strategies, those same groups need to become involved in the content creation process.

“What we figured out as a good model is to make departments/groups responsible for content, not individuals,” Jason says. “That way, they could collaborate as they produce the content.”

Adds Paul, “Organizations have more content than they think—they just need to expose it. Share that information rather than keeping it close to the vest or for a small audience, which is what we’ve traditionally done.”

Embrace Mistakes

And if you really want to create an effective social strategy that works? Don’t be afraid of failure.

“The culture of most companies is risk-averse,” Paul says. “Until the organization can embrace from the top down the idea that you’re iterating and it’s OK to make mistakes, you’re never going to grasp the full potential of these tools.”

If you’re a B2B marketer, have you learned best practices from your B2C counterparts that you’ve added to your own digital strategy? Fire away in the comments and we’ll keep the discussion going!

Image by J D Mack via Creative Commons