Skip to main content

What's Next for B2B Social Media? FYIndOut Now

It's been obvious for some time that social media has an increasing role in b2b marketing, and that b2b companies will increasingly invest marketing dollars there as social media marketing practices become more standardized. Still, most of what's being done today, from creating a company Facebook page to using a social media email signature, is extremely tactical. How can b2b firms approach social media more strategically?

It starts by thinking about the points of alignment between the goals of b2b companies and their buyers:
  • B2b buyers have problems they need solved. Vendors have products and services designed to solve those problems. When the right solution meets the right problem, both sides benefit.

  • Both buyers and sellers want to reach each other as efficiently as possible. That is, buyers don't want to listen to 50 vendors pitch products or services they don't need or can't afford in order to find the one solution they seek, and vendors don't want to waste marketing dollars and sales time chasing prospects who don't need or can't buy their offerings.

  • Both sides understand the importance of third-party endorsements. Every vendor will rave about its own products or services, and buyers get that. So, industry publications, blogs, and analyst reports carry somewhat more weight than a company brochure. Most important, however, are the words of actual customers. Case studies are currently the most common way to deliver this information, though there is still a production cost for the vendor and prospective buyers presume that only the happiest customers will have their stories published.
A new b2b social media site called FYIndOut understands these dynamics, and is seeking to do for b2b buyers what epinions does for consumer products and Angie's List does for household services.

FYIndOut is free for b2b buyers, who can read product/service reviews posted by other users, write their own review, contact multiple vendors at once, and network with other buyers. The creators of the site believe that buyers will post reviews because 1) they increasingly use social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) as part of their professional lives, and 2) for all the reasons (and then some) that people write reviews on consumer sites: self-gratification, self-promotion, to rant about a bad experience or gush ab out a great one, to pay it forward/back, or just to help others. There are no plans for any type of direct reward for contributing currently, though presumably that could change if the need arises.

Vendors can post their company name, website link, and one product/service name with a description for free, or sign up for the "Plus" membership enabling them to do additional promotion; post assets such as white papers, videos and presentations; invite their customers to contribute reviews; interact with the community; and generate leads.

Paid membership runs $99 per month plus $100 per accepted lead. In comparison to something like Google AdWords, depending on campaign efficiency, FYIndOut's cost per lead runs 30%-100% higher, but—the leads should theoretically be more qualified, and vendors pay only for accepted leads. In addition, FYIndOut lets each vendor know who else is getting the lead (so vendors can position themselves accordingly when they contact the buyer) and provides LinkedIn information from the buying company (so the vendor can check for connections there).

On the buyer side, FYIndOut is targeted at SMBs that are generally too small to have policies against endorsing vendors (as many larger enterprises unfortunately do) or to be clients of analyst firms like Gartner or Forrester. On the vendor side, FYIndOut is open to any b2b product or service provider; unlike TechMATCH or CTS, it isn't limited to technology products (and doesn't rely on vendor RFPs for information).

In order to avoid Yelp-style lawsuits, FYIndOut will remove any review content that is factually inaccurate; enable vendors to respond publicly to negative reviews; and encourage vendors and unhappy customers to resolve issues directly.

FYIndOut is the brainchild of Scott Manley and Tony Colon. Scott was previously a senior vice president at LaSalle Bank and product manager at Motorola. Tony was a solution architect at eGain Communications, where he helped Fortune 500 companies integrate CRM systems with collaboration channels such as email, web text chat and online self service.

As Scott puts in in his pitch for the site, "The idea for FYIndOut started because we both believe that the model for finding and marketing business apps and services is outdated. For years now, there’s nothing in our consumer lives where we won’t first go online to see customer reviews before we buy it. Yet, in the business world, we still go by the biggest ads in the Yellow Pages or the top results on a search engine. The other option is to pay a high end analyst firm for an expensive report of vendors in a certain area, none of which they have ever used themselves. None of these options speaks to the solution provider’s quality, just their advertising budget and SEO skills. The goal for FYIndOut is to allow professionals to find the business apps and services they’re looking for in the same manner we’re used to in our consumer lives and provide Solution Providers (big and small) a level playing field to compete based on interaction and quality, not advertising budget."

Success will depend on a number of factors, including getting buyers to post honest and useful reviews and vendors to buy into the value proposition. It will also require generating scale quickly. But given both the success of review sites in the consumer realm and the increasing use of social media in b2b marketing, FYIndOut may have the right timing and the right model to achieve success using social networking to bring b2b buyers and seller together.

*****


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

Comments

All Time Greats

Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEM

Search engine marketing (SEM) is one of the fastest-growing categories in all of advertising, because it is both measurable and logical: present your ads when people are searching for what you're selling. A well-crafted search marketing program can provide not only broad brand exposure at a very reasonable cost (with CPMs of $10 or less), but also high-ROI lead generation. As with any other type of advertising, however, a poorly-designed campaign will be a disappointing waste of money. In addition to best practices in search engine marketing , the following articles and blog posts were among the best of 2007 at providing helpful guidance for creating and managing effective search marketing programs. Five Common Paid Search Mistakes That Can Sink Your Campaign by Search Engine Guide Blogger Jennifer Laycock explains how common mistakes such as "ego bidding," writing a single ad for all keywords, and directing all of your traffic to a single landing page can limit the res

Getting More Out of Each Click with "Post-Click Marketing"

With the economy now officially in a recession (as if we didn't know that), marketers are under increasing pressure to do more with less. On the interactive marketing side, few marketers will get budget increases enabling them to drive more clicks. The challenge, then, is to maximize marketing productivity—to get more leads out of the same number of clicks. This is the first of two posts that will look at how to improve conversion rates to get more value from each click. One answer to this challenge is provided by "post-click marketing," a.k.a. lead automation management vendors. While the specifics of each service vary, all of them essentially: automate the process of extracting visitor IP information from your log files; match the IP address to an organization; filter out ISPs; and map the company name to one or more external databases to provide additional information (company size, industry, key contacts etc.). The better services also use geo-location filte

The 8 Layers of a B2B Web Marketing Plan

One way to think about designing a B2B technology web marketing plan is as a series of layers, like an onion. At the core is SEO—simply making your website "findable" through organic search to buyers who are looking for what you offer. Working out from the center are concentric layers of additional investment and sophistication. Small companies and start-ups with modest budgets will focus most of their efforts on the inner layers or rings, which are primarily designed for lead generation. As the company and its marketing budget grow, efforts can be expanded to the outer layers, which are aimed more at branding but support lead generation efforts. Ideally, a company eventually reaches the outer layer where pure branding activities (such as print advertising) help to maximize the effectiveness of lead generation programs (such as SEM) near the center of the circle. This diagram shows how different types of web marketing programs can be prioritized in order to maximize the retur

Don't They Know Who You Are? Why Reputation Management is Critical

This content has been moved to Don’t They Know Who You Are? Why Reputation Management is Crucial on the Webbiquity blog. ***** technorati tags: Lee Odden, digital reputation management, Jon Rognerud, Guy Kawasaki, LookupPage, Google Knol, TechCrunch, YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, Twitter, Wikio, Mixx, Digg, StumbleUpon, Wikipedia, Tim Young, Socialcast, LinkedIn, Facebook, Naymz, Jigsaw, Plaxo, ZoomInfo, CrunchBase, VisualCV, Scott Monty, Christopher Barger del.icio.us tags: Lee Odden, digital reputation management, Jon Rognerud, Guy Kawasaki, LookupPage, Google Knol, TechCrunch, YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, Twitter, Wikio, Mixx, Digg, StumbleUpon, Wikipedia, Tim Young, Socialcast, LinkedIn, Facebook, Naymz, Jigsaw, Plaxo, ZoomInfo, CrunchBase, VisualCV, Scott Monty, Christopher Barger icerocket tags: Lee Odden, digital reputation management, Jon Rognerud, Guy Kawasaki, LookupPage, Google Knol, TechCru

Best of 2008: Social Media Optimization, Part 2

This content has been moved to Best of 2008: Social Media Marketing on the Webbiquity blog. ***** technorati tags: best free tools for monitoring social buzz social media marketing Six Pixels of Separation Mitch Joel Techrigy SM2 Key Web Data Chris Lang Google social bookmarking HubSpot Catie Foertsch Kate Morris TopRank Online Marketing Blog Jessica Cameron-Ruud Duct Tape Marketing John Jantsch CircleUp Traffic Travis del.icio.us tags: best free tools for monitoring social buzz social media marketing Six Pixels of Separation Mitch Joel Techrigy SM2 Key Web Data Chris Lang Google social bookmarking HubSpot Catie Foertsch Kate Morris TopRank Online Marketing Blog Jessica Cameron-Ruud Duct Tape Marketing John Jantsch CircleUp Traffic Travis icerocket tags: best free tools for monitoring social buzz social media marketing Six Pixels of Separation Mitch Joel Techrigy SM2 Key Web Data Chris Lang Google social bookmarking HubSpot Catie Foe

Best of 2007: Web 2.0 Sites

A number of new social networking, social search, social bookmarking, and other Web 2.0-related websites and tools either got their start or got traction in 2007. Here are some of the most notable new sites and tools that made it onto the radar last year. Go2Web20.net Billed as "the complete Web 2.0 directory," this site has cataloged more than 2,000 Web 2.0 applications and services, searchable by an extensive list of tags and sortable by date and name. Snitter Snitter is a small desktop application that makes it easy to keep up with those you are following on Twitter, a social networking site that lets you keep "followers" up to date on what you're up to, and stay in the loop on what they're doing. KickApps A hosted web-based platform that enables webmasters and site owners to create, deploy and manage a branded social media community on any website. Socialtext An enterprise wiki tool that enables workgroups or organizations to create secure, group-editabl

MarketingSherpa Releases 2008 Search Marketing Benchmark Guide

MarketingSherpa recently published its Search Marketing Benchmark Guide for 2008 , providing data on cost per click (CPC), conversion rates, SEO and other key online marketing metrics. The study is designed to help online marketers set PPC and SEO budgets, forecast results, test online marketing programs, and even (toughest of all)—explain search marketing plans to your client or CEO. Among the key findings: Search marketing continues to grow at an incredible pace, with spending up 39% globally in 2007. A third of respondents anticipate double-digit spending increases on both SEO and Google PPC programs in 2008. Marketers rate SEO second and search engine marketing (PPC) ads third in terms of ROI, behind only house-list email marketing. Online banner ads and print advertising receive the lowest grades for ROI. The return on PR spending is viewed as the most difficult to measure. Thinking of bringing SEM and SEO in-house? Nearly a third of corporate respondents said that finding ta

Best of 2007: Blog Posts on Social Media Marketing

My last post listed several of the best news articles from 2007 on how to effectively use social networking sites for marketing. Here are some of the best blog posts on social networking and social media marketing strategies and tactics. 7 Reasons Why Niche Social Media Outlets are Better Than Digg by AjaxNinja After noting that "Digg has an immense amount of traffic and getting landed on the front page will send a tsunami of new readers to your blog or website, but getting onto the front page is incredibly difficult. Getting onto the front page of a smaller, more appropriate niche portal, by contrast, is much easier, quicker, and ultimately you get a better return on your time/traffic ratio in the short run," this post makes the case for targeting smaller sites. Among the complaints about Digg are its excessively broad audience and categories and the site's lack of transparency. 34 More Ways to Build Your Own Social Network by TechCrunch An excellent and detailed revie