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B2B Social Media - why there should be a better way than spam


I read a Blog-Post the other day about how not to make people feel annoyed by your social media activities. I was really attracted to the post, although to be honest there was not so much new in there. But usually I get the feeling that people try to tell you how to spam people more efficiently. So this post was a nice change: 
But why is b2b social media so much about spam? And is that the way it should be?
To answer the first question, we have to look at the processes in B2B social media. To answer the second we should step back and look at how B2B works outside of social media.
How is social media used for B2B companies?
Social Media is a lot about ‘news’. The big networks all work with feeds, where content drops more to the bottom the older it gets. The older content gets, the harder it gets to find (try finding a year old tweet).
So people (or businesses) only stand a chance of visibility if they post new news all the time. That is what happens in all social networks used in B2B social media i.e. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn-Groups, Google+. So to gain visibility all people or companies try to produce news as often as possible. As most B2B companies do not have news about their products, employees, company-events etc. they use content of others, rewriting, sharing, retweeting, plussing and reposting, what others have already told, because only what you post will connect to you.
As almost everybody acts this way, the better we are connected in our field of interest, the more often we get the same content redone in some way. The main goal somehow does not seem to be telling real news any more, but to stay visible with posting almost anything barely relating to us. The spam feeling is born.
How does B2B networking work in real life?
Let’s take a look at B2B networking processes in real life. We go to events, conferences, business fairs, get invited by business partners, friends and business partners introduce us to new people, we write articles for magazines, we hold speeches and we give lectures. In all cases we do not expect to get instant new business deals. In B2B processes take more time to build real connections and trust. B2B business usually is about long term relationships, it is not like buying a pen or book, where you take only a second to decide on the buy. In B2B, deals usually move considerate amounts of money, this explains why it can take a long time and a lot of communication until one decides on starting to work together. This communication is a lot about expertise, own knowledge, listening, explaining, getting to know and building trust.
That is why we spend time communicating about our products, business problems, research profiles, etc. If someone interesting was talking on a conference, we would go to exactly that conference, listen to his talk, walk up to him and start to chat. And, while this may seem strange to social media experts, many companies still practice exactly that.
What you do not do in real life B2B networking, is go to a conference, listen to a talk and then run around for the remaining time of the conference shouting out extracts of the talk. Why do you not do that? Because people would be offended, not take you seriously and most of them would not be listening to you, even turn away from you.
So why is this the kind of communication a lot of people are doing in B2B Social Media? Due to the way the social networks work, people will often not even notice that you are there otherwise. Newsstreams always mean that nothing is less visible than yesterdays posts. So you either decide to spam or to act sensible but invisible. Of course this is overstating. And a lot of people do social media campaigns without spamming and gaining visibility in a sensible way. But the average company just wants to network as they do in real life: saying what they have to say and to the people interested in the same topic. These people will either not get heard or repeat what they have to say.
So what?

Current social media processes were not made for B2B. They were developed with private communication in mind. B2B companies started using these processes because of the great numbers of people you can reach in social networks and the lack of better suited websites.
To make social media really work for B2B companies, new ways of social media communication will have to be established. Where you can find the topics that you are interested in. Where you do not have to post news everyday to be visible. Where you can search for information relating to your current business topics. And where you can easily communicate and connect to people withing your field of interest.



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