Business Value of Social Media for B2B
In discussing social media with business-to-business (B2B) companies, I find one of the key challenges in developing the conversation is that a lot of the reference points – what people have absorbed about or experienced of social media – is in the business-to-consumer (B2C) space.
For example, a quite interesting report I read yesterday, about responsive or otherwise various brands are to questions on their chosen social platforms, was all about companies, many of which clearly sell to other businesses, but all of which, as far as I could tell, have a strongly or exclusively orientation to the individual consumer. Try showing that to an engineering consultancy, or a law firm specializing in corporate law, or a supplier of engine parts to a larger manufacturer.
There needs to be time and openness to get the parameters of the conversation aligned.
And those of us who are believers in social media for business, especially those of us who are selling various social media 0r social business services, have to recognize that not everyone sees the world the way we do.
These thoughts were prompted for me today by a discussion on a LinkedIn group devoted to social media in the B2B space, where one member asked what would the one key question be that you would ask a business owner about social media.
I thought coming up with one restricted my scope too much and I offered to provide five questions.
The offer was quickly accepted and I produced the following five, with added notes.
Five Questions about Social Media and B2B
1. Are you open to a conversation about how social media can help your business grow?
I decided a while ago that it was a decidedly unproductive use of time – and depressing – to try and have this sort of conversation with people who had closed minds on the subject and were more interested in banging on about all the harm social media brings than about the benefits.
2. In an ideal world, and from what you know now, if you can imagine getting into social media could help your business, what would you like that help to look like?
There’s a range of possible answers: more sales, more leads, brand positioning, attract quality staff, thought leadership….
3. Have you already tried to do something with social media and if so with what result?
I know with this one I have to be ready for tales of disillusionment because some slick character did them out of their money with a ‘get-leads-quick’ scam: I need to listen and see if they are open to an ethical approach.
4. Are your customers using social media and if so how?
I find most have not researched this and are stuck with prejudices.
5. What are your competitors doing with social media?
If they are active, you’d better get your skates on. If they are not active, might there be an opportunity here to get ahead of the game and seize a first or early mover advantage?
You don’t always have to ask all or most. Some people buy in at 1 or 2.
These days I find that most business owners I speak to are thinking about this but don’t know where to start. Many are scared of the risks, but that would be another question and another blog post!
Would you have other questions?