While the digital world is immersing itself in social media, with something else finally overtaking pornography as the UK’s favoured online pastime, companies operating in “business-to-business” remain sceptical.
So says US-based communications expert, Shel Holtz, who appears to have repeatedly heard the refrain: “There’s no role for social media in B2B”.
But it’s quite the opposite: social media, with its focus on creating intelligent, useful and compelling online content and generating mutually beneficial conversations is just right for B2B.
Holtz goes on to explain how social media makes sense for those selling in the B2B arena, building relationships with niche audiences via online dialogue and creating a community of “customer evangelists”, inspired by your company’s openness and willingness to exchange information and ideas.
PR Media Blog has advocated this before, but with the caveat that dipping your foot in the social media ocean has its fair share of hazards lurking in the depths. In short, it’s not an advertising medium in the traditional sense and brazenly pushing product in the faces of your new-found community doesn’t gel.
Research from Gartner suggests that B2B social media campaigns will fail if companies rush in to an online community “without a mutual purpose” and that firms need to recognise social media as an ongoing activity; a conversation that lasts beyond the adrenaline-fuelled fuss surrounding a product launch.
But companies operating in B2B shouldn’t rule out social media as something just for the kids or those kooky consumer brands.