Have you ever been invited to a free meal & ended up with a sales pitch? I just received one of those invites this week. The invitation said that it was a great speaker who was going to talk about ‘healthy living’. When the person who sent the invitation called for an RSVP, I asked what the product was. Sorry… not interested in Melaleuca. That’s my choice as a consumer. I really have trouble with the lack of transparency. The same rules apply to online interaction in social networks & communities. You don’t go to a party & sell products, right?
My online community work started in the B2C world. Now our focus at Techrigy is primarily B2B. It’s not much different. The advent of social media networks has offered new opportunities for B2B companies to connect with potential customers. B2B’s can now leverage their presence in social networks & communities. BUT, it has to be within the social expectations of the site/community.
How can B2B companies utilize social media?
- Be helpful & provide resources. White papers are a great way to provide high level information in your industry.
- Create a blog & provide a place for dialogue. People searching for information & your type of products will find your site.
- Join social networks and participate in them.
- Answer questions in LinkedIn. We have people trying our Freemium due to their seeing our team answering questions on LinkedIn
- Twitter is a very successful lead generator for us. We monitor Twitter for people looking for our service & reach out to them. It’s done in a helpful way and is appreciated.
- In Facebook join groups & get involved.
- Create a community for your customers
- Join their conversations, provide assistance & help your customers succeed with their businesses
The BIG question is where should focus your resources? The web is a big place. How can you find which social media networks are right for your presence?
Social media monitoring is becoming imperative. It allows your business to easily identify & locate:
- who is talking about your products and competitors
- who your advocates are so that you can engage them
- conversations on your industry topics
- where those conversations are happening at
And after gathering that information it’s easy to join the social networking sites and participate in the conversations. If you provide helpful information people will come to trust you and relationships will develop. From there it will become natural for you to offer your services to others as a part of your presence. Again we’re using our own tool to guide our interactions online. Techrigy SM2 offers real time alerts and it makes it easy for us to engage.
Here’s a list of other B2B companies that are creatively using social media tools & communities.
- SAP Developer Community
- Autodesk communities
- Intuit/ Quickbooks are doing creative campaigns for small businesses
- TechCrunch wrote about Dell using Twitter
Update: This article has some good ideas for Using Twitter for Lead Generation