Three Views on B2B and Social Media in 2011

John Bell VP Enterprise Digital Marketing, Travelers

Posted on July 18th 2011

B2B cloud

More and more B2B marketers are blending social strategies with their digital strategies which themselves are just a piece of the overall sales and marketing strategy. This layer-cake approach to "strategy" is typical for the moment and represents an artificial yet necessary attention on digital and social as those disciplines are new-ish still. The cake will settle over time to be one, integrated strategy in the future.

Over the past year, I have noticed a distinct uptick in terms of B2B marketers developing experience and cases around sales enablement, content strategies, peer recommendations each with a heavy social component. 

Adam Holden-Bache over at B2BSocialMedia posted this nugget from eMarketer within a useful post on B2B stats: 

"B2B product marketers were spending an average of 3.4% of their marketing budgets on social media in February 2010, and B2B services marketers were spending 6.5%. Respondents expected those proportions to reach 7.4% and 11%, respectively, over the next year."

So, essentially the spend will double or near-abouts. That doubling is happening despite our deep dissatisfaction in how we measure the value of these efforts. Imagine when we all get better at that....

I recently published a post on the Ogilvy SellorElse blog about the B2B buyer journey. I wanted to share that plus two other strong posts from other marketers on the latest in B2B social media marketing and communications.  

The B2B Buyer Journey Is a Social One

by John Bell

"The buyer journey begins earlier and earlier. Even before a buyer knows they will be a “buyer” they are researching a need via Google, reading what their peers are struggling with, and forming ideas for how to overcome problems or accelerate their business.

We talk in terms of demand generation and lead generation in B2B marketing. Sales is a whole other matter. But the split between sales and marketing and the entire concept of “demand generation” leave out a big piece of what customers need: business problem solving...

...No big mystery that B2B business and tech leaders do what we all do when we have questions. They use search. We have become adept at finding our own answers and ultimately this leads to a much more informed customer base. Not only that but  business leaders wrestling with the overall health of their business are online as much as the tech leaders charged with implementing systems to meet those business objectives. Yet, only 29% of reps are prepared to understand business problems..."

Read the full post: The B2B Buyer Journey Is a Social One

I have been using custom apps at more and more events lately and really like how they not only consolidate the most useful information in one place but serve as a small, specialty community for the attendees. In this post, Eric Schwartzman covers off on this phenomena and I like is brass tacks description of a tactic that works. 

HOW TO: Market B2B Events via Mobile

by Eric Schwartzman

"Make no mistake about it!
The killer app for B2B social media at trades events is, believe it or not, the app.
But not just any app.  Mobile apps.   More and more, attendees are using iPhone and Android apps to network digitally at events, and marketing them in the process...
...So powerful is the prospect of mobile social networking at events that a number of conference organizers have already taken a stab at building their own, branded mobile apps. So far, the results have been mixed.  Because just like any other social media channel, those that go the distance prevail...

Read the full post: HOW TO: Market B2B Events via Mobile

Interestingly there is not ton of strategic thinking in blogs around B2B and social media. What there is a lot of are "list" posts which scramble together "11 things" or "11 Trends" or "11 cliches" and then there are tactical instructions which are often useful (e.g. B2B and SEO, Content Marketing 101, and so forth). The following post from Niall Cook struck me as simple, strategic and useful. 

Three Tenets of B2B Social Media Marketing

by Niall Cook

"...‘Social’ is not the same as ‘personal’ - if the social aspect of social media is about relationships – regardless of whether they are personal (friends) or professional (business contacts) – then the important thing for the marketer to understand is how people can switch between personal and work roles throughout the day. It’s a big factor in what GyroHSR’s chief executive Rick Segal calls the ‘at work’ state of mind. People can be physically at work yet at times mentally at leisure – and vice versa – but regardless of this, when they are using social media they are still social..."

Read the full post: Three Tenets of B2B Social Media Marketing


John Bell

VP Enterprise Digital Marketing, Travelers


I head up Enterprise Digital Marketing at Travelers. Just as Travelers anticipates the needs of personal and business insurance customers in an ever-changing world, we approach marketing differently. The customer journey has changed. To meet these new behaviors, we put data-driven content, digital marketing and social engagement at the heart of marketing.  


Previously, I developed, grew and ran Ogilvy’s global, social media solutions practice – Social@Ogilvy.  The world’s largest network of social media and business strategists, the team believes in the power and impact of truly integrated social media business solutions. I drove senior client engagements, the development of Ogilvy’s social planning framework, and a global training program for staff and clients, alike. Our work  combines deep disciplines like crm, public relations, advertising and shopper marketing and rooted in what drives behavior.  

I have developed and executed enterprise social media strategy for the Ford Motor Company, Nestle, IBM, Coca Cola, and DuPont - including work winning a Silver Lion at Cannes.  I launched a single brand Facebook initiative in 20+ countries, helped telcos in Australia and Greece adopt social care and marketing and consulted with consumer goods marketers in Turkey. 

Discovery Communications

Discovery Channel was one of the first media properties to really experiment with the Web. I was brought in as Creative Director to transform a single Web site into a network of 14 Web properties known as We had live, online expeditions from the field. Reporters posted stories, audio and video from Australia in search of giant spiders and from the bottom of the ocean where they explored the Titanic wreckage for the first time. All while the events were happening.  I designed and built online experiences for TLC, Animal Planet, Discovery Kids, Discovery Health, Travel Channel not to mention a host of digital TV network sites and global sites.

AT&T, Viacom & Media Circus

The first wave of innovation was Interactive Television (iTV) in 1990.  I headed up the Visual Design Studio at Downtown Digital, a joint venture between Viacom and AT&T to create the most futuristic vision of interactive television anyone could imagine. I created programming for kids, gamers, and fully interactive applications for Paramount Studios and Entertainment Tonight.  This model of set-top box delivered interactivity remains a vision for all iTV innovation.

I created the first Interactive Advertisement for American Express during that ITV trial. Then, as a founding member and Creative Director, I formed Media Circus Interactive Advertising in New York during the 1990's. We created award-winning CD-ROMs including designing the first interactive advertisement on Launch, then a CD-ROM zine, for Sony. I also designed the first I-Spy CD-ROM for Scholastic extending the brand into the electronic space and pushing the limits of what an interactive experience could be. At the same time the Internet was exploding. I designed and built complicated transaction sites for Gateway Computers and wild experiments like MTV’s Web service that connected “stringers” all across the country reporting on the music scene in their community (sound a bit like blogging? It should and the year was 1995).

Charlex, M&Co. and RGA

My early career was in television design and production. I literally grew up at Charlex, a design and production company, producing some of the most artful and innovative television commercials and pioneering the use of complex blue and green screen effects. I count Alex Weil as a huge influence as well as Tibor Kalman. Tibor ran M&Co. (and  was CD at Interview Magazine) and taught me what it really means to be a Creative Director. We produced his first moving media designs including a design prototype for Godfather III titles using a vacuuform machine. I produced complex, design-based television commercials with RGA and learned a tremendous amount from Robert Greenberg and, at that time, Executive Producer Andy Arkin.   

I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts in European history and spent a lot of time at the Annenberg School of Communications.I loved Philly and worked at an innovative, post-punk restaurant - the Knave of Hearts - on South Street.  

Memberships & Affiliations

  • I served on the board as past president of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA)
  • I currently serve on the Advisory Panel for Social Media Today
  • I served on the advisory board to PBS Engage at
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