Does Social Media have a role in B2B relationships? I've been trying to find a role which makes sense, and so far a definitive answer has eluded me. What do you think?
There's no shortage of Social Media consultants extolling the potential for the genre to add value to business relationships, and a bunch of tools to purportedly help. Some of them work well, from a software perspective. But B2B is a very special environment which doesn't sit well in the social media space. Or that's the way it seems to me at least.
When it comes to B2C I can readily understand. Consumers get involved with social media precisely because they want to be social. Big brands have already established relationships with their consumers, and the smart ones understand how their brand translates into status for their customers. They've spent an enormous amount of money building presence in their particular niche.
Rock stars, movie stars, sports equipment companies etc. have all followed the auto companies down the line. They create niches consumers can associate with. This is the natural place for Facebook Pages and corporate Twitter accounts. On a personal level I might have a real thing for Ferrari cars. If Ferrari has a Page and a Twitter profile I'll follow them, because that brings me closer to their tribe. Knowing the inside track says something about me, just like me wearing their logo does.
But when it comes to business there's no individual relationship. No brand association which says something about me. I don't get to feel good because my company uses At&T for phones. Will I be a fan on the At&T page or follow the company on Twitter? Not likely.
Fact is, as a corporate exec, or even a solopreneur, when I'm working, I'm working. Not hanging out on Facebook and keeping up with the latest news from Exxon or Cargill, or GE.
In either role I'm reluctant to go where I'll be pitched at. Individuals in corporations get sold to all the time, but never get to buy anything in isolation. They stay away from Linked In precisely because of the selling. There's no fun in the relationship between "let me tell you what I can do for you" and "you're talking to the wrong man".
So what do you think?
When it comes to B2B are these social media consultants just dogs barking up the wrong tree?
In B2B its organisation charts and corporate strategy which counts, not relationships.
When I'm entertaining myself in Social Media fun and relaxation is my objective. The last thing I want to tell anybody, and particularly social media friends, is "I can't help you. I don't have that much influence."