Social networks and B2B – Start of a new friendship?

Social networks and B2B - Start of a new friendship?

Social networks are growing. This is an observation that can be reinforced this year. At the beginning of 2011, we first had to show Facebook from the inside in our seminars and explain very rudimentary functions. In the meantime, the know-how of the participants of our seminars (B2C & B2B, increased marketing, but also other departments) has improved considerably. And companies are also better positioned and less and less need to be convinced that they need to manage social media and develop their skills. Social media job ads are springing up like mushrooms.

Social media has long since arrived in B2B. If last year we were more concerned with the relevance of social media for B2B, we are now much more concerned with the question of the how and the right approach. One aspect always surprises me enormously in this context: none of the online topics such as email marketing, web control, SEA or SEO have managed to arrive so quickly in the B2B communication mix. If we talk to B2B companies today about social media strategies or are in the process of developing one, it becomes clear that many online marketing disciplines are still in their infancy. This is all the more remarkable since social networks are more likely than SEA or Google Adwords to get B2Bs to deal with it.

Why are social networks so attractive for B2B companies?

Take our favorite B2B example, Krones AG. If you follow them on Facebook, it becomes clear that with social networks they have a channel for sharing content that otherwise would probably never have found its way into external communication: Blog of apprentices about their stays abroad, on the occasion of the 2- anniversary of Facebook baked a cake with the Krones logo, Friday coffee with the Krones logo in the foam, the “Freude-TGIF” (Thank God, c is Friday) and much more. I didn’t know Krones and I don’t know anyone personally who works there. Nevertheless, I really like the company and it feels like you know a little about the employees there. At the same time, I learn a lot about the bottling plants, the size of Krones and their skills. Well, I’m into social media and less into PET bottling lines…we could chat now.

Now, next to me are the interested audience, candidates, graduates, those with an interest in the industry, potential decision makers and all of these are also the target group for social media content. Thanks to Sven and his Part 1 and Part 2 articles on Google+Social Media= Social Search, we have covered the subject of social media and influence on Google. And by now it should be clear that almost everything is searched or used for search on the Internet – whether it’s T-shirts, restaurants, technical constructions or bottling plants.

We then often hear the argument “but no B2B purchasing decision is made on this basis?” That is why potential decision makers are also invited to the Business Lounge at Bundesliga matches, the gala dinner, Porsche events or other events (provided the rules of the company’s code of conduct still allow this) , because no decision is taken there! Where? This brings us back to the subject of people: the decision maker is a person and emotional factors play an important role here. Oops, we’re back on social media, where even the most serious business can spread emotional topics.

Content strategy – what do we say?

Very few B2B companies will run out of social media-friendly topics and content once you understand what it’s all about.
Brainstorm for content strategy – a first step:

  • Step 1: Existing content
    There’s no need to reinvent the wheel – first look at what the business already has (PR, marketing, magazines, communications, events, etc.) then prepare that content appropriately for social media
  • Step 2: Define internal sources
    There are many fields and people who have exciting topics. Until now, these were not relevant for communication, such as research and development, trainees, customer service, production, customer projects, etc.
  • Step 3: Think outside the box
    Old channels usually cost money, so people were careful not to talk about anything other than their own business. This is not the case on social networks. On the contrary: you are more credible if you do not only talk about yourself but show that you think outside the box and share third-party content. This includes anything industry related – always with the aim of leading the subject.

Other sources of information on B2B and social networks

If you want to get an overview of B2B people who are still active in social media, you can find a good overview here. But beware: only the numbers of fans have been used for the ranking, which alone are not an indicator of successful communication on social networks. For this, engagement (likes, shares, comments) should be added or linked (eg here, even if not B2B).

Social media and B2B is not just a group problem, but also affects medium-sized companies in particular – guidance and best practice documents provide support.
As with many online topics, the US is a bit ahead of us – but you can also benefit from the experience and know-how there (newsletter is recommended).

And last but not least, why social media and B2B are increasingly relevant: last year, at Social Media Conference the Internet Business World the question arose of a separate B2B tag, which crowdmedia is currently developing with the Internet Business World realized – Special B2B on September 26, 2012 in Hamburg. Interest in B2B is therefore now great enough to devote a conference day to this subject. When researching suitable examples and speakers, it became clear that there are now many interesting and successful examples. We are looking forward to it!

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