As noted here previously, from both the B2B vendor perspective and buyer perspective, social media is becoming an increasingly important channel for B2B communication. It's no longer just about teenagers discussing their favorite bands. Vendors are using social media to raise awareness and build market credibility, while B2B buyers are using these sites to seek out "the real story" on suppliers, products and services. With that in mind, here are four ways B2B vendors can use social media to spread their messages.
1. Get connected on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Creating and maintaining a profile on both sites, then creating connections to other people you know, can pay B2B PR dividends in at least three ways:
- Profiles (particularly those on LinkedIn) show up well in searches for terms related to your position (so make sure your profile includes those key terms). This makes you—and ultimately your company—easier to find.
- You can link names of your executives used in press releases back to their profiles on these sites. This helps anyone curious enough to learn more about their backgrounds and connections, and is good interactive PR practice.
- Your prospects want to know who you are connected to. Having connections in common or to names that they recognize and trust builds credibility for you and your organization.
2. Participate in online discussion forums, such as ITtoolbox for technology issues.
While these forums are not a place to promote your products or services directly—and indeed, doing so is likely to earn you the scorn of the community and do your brand more damage than good—it is a place to build credibility by contributing knowledge to discussions, and it is okay to mention that your product/service does x, y and z if you are directly asked.
Suppose, for example, that a business prospect asks a forum question about your particular technology area. John Doe, a consultant with your company, provides a helpful and unbiased response. Then the prospect views some other discussion threads and notices that John Doe has provided thoughtful, non-promotional responses in several instances. The credibility of your company has been greatly enhanced in the eyes of this prospect, even though none of John Doe's responses were promotional or even mentioned your product or services.
3. Participate in blogs.
If your product/service is complex enough to warrant the effort, and you can make the time to devote to regular posting, then consider creating your own blog.
If not, you can still build awareness and credibility for your organization by commenting on existing blogs related to your industry, and/or reaching out to bloggers in your field with interesting information about your product/service (such as a white paper or report) that they may want to write about.
4. Tag your content on social media sites.
When you come across an interesting article or blog post pertaining to your industry (including your own content, if helpful and not just promotional), tag it on sites such as Searchles, ClipMarks, and Zimbio. Participating in these sites helps increase visibility for your content and organization both directly and through search engines.
Used properly, social media can be powerful and cost-effective way to build awareness and credibility for your organization.
Contact Mike Bannan: firstname.lastname@example.org