Three Ways B2B Social Should Be More Like B2C

Scott Gulbransen
Scott Gulbransen Vice President Global Communications & Digital Marketing, DSI

Posted on February 27th 2014

Three Ways B2B Social Should Be More Like B2C

b2b lessons and b2cSo much of what we professionals read and share about the use of social for marketing and public relations purposes focuses on the consumer-based brand.

How many cookie-based content examples must we endure? Do we really need to read story after story on how Brand X set up a “real-time” social center to engage with consumers during the Super Bowl?

While there are amazing examples of the use of social on the business-to-business side, websites and newsletters don’t do a great job of capturing it. The argument goes this way: social business to the consumer is richer, bigger and more interesting. Readers identify more with them since they, themselves, are also consumers.

But where that view is wrong is the direction B2B social is taking. The reality is: B2B social is no different than B2C. It’s still about utility (our “Youtility” as my friend Jay Baer so well coined the term), engagement, value and connecting to humans via the use of technology.

More and more we’re starting to see great B2B social do what it should: connect with its consumers.

There is no difference in the way a B2B brand needs to connect to its customer. Everyone now is a consumer and requires the same attention. They want utility, they want value before, during and after the purchase, and they’re only loyal if you do so.

Here’s three things a B2B marketer can learn from a B2C marketer when it comes to using social effectively:

  1. Publish Interesting, Valuable Content: Selling things like servers didn’t derail Cisco from connecting by using humorous videos to reach its customers. The company connected to IT professionals by using – of all things – romance to grab some laughs but more importantly to break through clutter. Although its product is highly technical, it appeals to the person on the other end, not the techie.
  2. Provide Value & Utility in Unique Ways: Help your customer succeed by connecting them via an online customer community. Not a place to support or sell your product, but instead a place where they can develop strong peer-to-peer relationships. A place where you can provide them content to create discussion amongst your customers that give them knowledge and experience they’re not getting elsewhere. Moderate, but get out of the way and let it become what they want it to be.
  3. Listen, Listen, Listen: Many B2B brands fail to do the detailed listening and analytics many of their consumer counterparts invest so heavily in. Even if you’re business is in a more of a narrow channel, you should be listening daily and analyzing the conversation. Learn what’s not being delivered and then provide it for them. Many B2B companies are not participating because they’re thinking of their customers as technicians, not consumers.

The age of utility means all people are consumers. Whether they’re buying the latest television for their home, the newest “it” car of the year, or buying a piece of heavy equipment for a manufacturing role, technology means we’re all reachable in new ways – enabled by technology. 

If B2B social marketers want to cut through the clutter, and reach their audience and develop loyalty, they need to be more human – like our B2C counterparts.

(b2c lessons / shutterstock)

Scott Gulbransen

Scott Gulbransen

Vice President Global Communications & Digital Marketing, DSI

Over the past 19 years, Scott Gulbransen, Vice President of Global Communications & Digital Marketing at DSI, has parlayed a deep level of experience in public relations and online marketing into a successful career built on innovation, creativity and hardcore business results.

A former print journalist, Scott moved into the world of public relations and corporate communications cutting his teeth at one of Fortune’s top workplaces – Intuit. For 10 years, Scott served as a primary spokesperson, communications strategist and social media innovator for both the TurboTax and Quicken brands. Recognizing the full-throttle freight train that social media was becoming, Gulbransen worked to establish a social media and content strategy for Intuit’s Consumer Group. With TurboTax, Scott lead the effort to establish the first of its kind customer support project, @TeamTurboTax, by using the new and emerging channel to help customers during tax season. He also helped to create, design, and launch the brand’s content hub.

In addition to his work on TurboTax, Gulbransen also helped turn around the Quicken brand with the launch of its new, free Quicken Online product – all of which was done primarily through the use of social media. Part of the success of the launch of Quicken Online led Intuit to acquire Mint.com – the nation’s leading online personal finance website.

Next, Scott was asked to create and lead social and digital media at the world’s largest casual dinging chain – Applebee’s. In his time there, he created a robust paid social strategy as well as the much heralded “National to Neighborhood” model for local Applebee’s restaurants. In just over eight months, Gulbransen and his team launched locally controlled Facebook pages for over 1,200 restaurants and the brand itself. Because the Applebee’s brand is focused on micro-local areas, he correctly surmised the social relationship had to be locally driven. That strategy continues to pay dividends for the brand and its sister IHOP. Gulbransen also led the complete overhaul and architecture of the new Applebees.com website and launched the companies first foray into mobile-driven marketing as well. Applebee’s, thanks to his vision, strategy and foundational work, was recently named as one of the top restaurant companies in social media

After just over a year away from taxes, Scott was again knee-deep in the middle of it again as H&R Block hired him away to push its influencer marketing and social media content strategy into high gear. Gulbransen ramped up the 54-year old brand’s social marketing and communications efforts by restructuring its social platforms, launching its new social content hub, and building new analytical approaches to social measurement He joined previous to the 2012 tax season and quickly made a huge impact. Besides being named one of H&R Block’s Top 100 Employees that year, after just eight months with the company, he also launched the award-winning campaigns to end all campaigns – The ‘Stache Act and Million Mustache March. The online-driven social campaign, designed to help the brand build relevance with millennial taxpayers, struck a nerve with customers and prospects and changed Block’s “buzz” trajectory. In besting his former employer, Gulbransen quickly elevated the brand in online and social media with the kitschy campaign.

That same year, Scott repeated his success from past stops as he created a robust, award-winning and industry-leading content strategy for the tax giant. In launching the brand’s first-ever client-focused content hub, BlockTalk, his strategy to engage tax clients all year with relevant finance and lifestyle content has paid dividends for the brand. Block now enjoys the largest share of voice and social engagement of any tax brand in the space.

In addition to his professional accomplishments at the corporate level, Gulbransen is also a prolific blogger named as one of the Top 50 Daddy Bloggers in the US by Cision in 2011. Gulbransen was ranked #21.Gulbransen is also an avid writer contributing to Social Media Today, Forbes, Technorati, SpinSucks.com and other publications. He also is a busy public speaker attending conferences and offering his views and thought leadership in PR, social media, and influencer marketing and content marketing.

Scott graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications (emphasis in Journalism) from UNLV, and is the married father of five kids (16, 13, 6, 4, 2), and lives in Kansas City.

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