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Leveraging Social Networks for B2B Marketing
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
The second session from the Marketing Profs B2B 2.0 Expo that I attended was entitled "Leveraging Social Networks for B2B Marketing". This is a topic that really does not have a lot of history as social networking has traditionally been geared more for individuals rather than businesses (especially B2B businesses).

This session featured three speakers:

Geoff Livingston - Now is Gone
Chris Brogan - Cross Tech Media
George Krautzel - ITtoolbox

The panelists discussed how businesses are getting into the social networking game through networks such as LinkedIn, Second Life, and microblogging to interact with their potential customers.

First up was Geoff who discussed the following points:
  • Challenges of Using Social Networks - One of the challenges companies face is whether to create your own social network or use other social networks. Setting up your own can be expensive. Examine the social networks that are out there. What's going to be worthwhile for your potential customer?
  • Cutting Niches within large networks - options include :LinkedIn, Facebook, Second Life, BlogCatalog, Twitter or other Professional specific networks like ITtoolbox.
  • Rules of Using Social Communities - When building communities and participating in social networks make sure that you are honesty, ethical, create fantastic content, manage your media forms, give up control of the message, build value for the community it has to be for them not you.
  • Benefits of Social Networking - great word of mouth, business development, PR, collaboration, HR/recruitment, product feedback (GM is currently having success with this)
Next up was George Krautzel. George discussed:
  • The Changing media landscape - online communities are emerging as "communities of practice". Marketers are adapting to engage target audiences and influence placement on the consideration ladder.
  • Why Professionals Use Social Media - it becomes part of their work flow. It helps them solve problems, stay current, compare vendors and broaden their support structure.
  • Targeting through Pull Marketing - Communities have high engagement combined with the high volume of content and contextual ad targeting you have a superior pull marketing strategy.
  • Unique Opportunities - we're still in the early stages of ad opportunity. Social networks will continue to evolve. George mentioned how Aquafina held a contest on MySpace, they gained 15K friends on MySpace through this contest which generated a ton of traffic to the Aquafina site.

    In addition, George mentioned the fact that advertisers can leverage their budget to a much greater return with social networks.
Finally Chris Brogan mentioned:
  • Decide whether you are building a marketplace or a community - Are you truly trying to build a community with the focus is on the users of that community. Participate first, sell second. Be very clear about this.
  • There is a Market for Everything - social networking can be for everyone as all business revolves around people. People participate in social circles whether offline or online.
  • Social networks are not places to simply put ads up, they are places where people go for opinions and information.
  • Listening, Level of Effort, Leverage - listen first before getting too deeply involved (your reputation get get tarnished if you jump in too soon). Plan out how much effort you will need. Leverage influencers as well as other related people within the community.
  • Measurement - Currently it is difficult to measure social network success. This will evolve as social networking evolves.
I've discussed the topic of social marketing for B2B marketers before and I still think that there are opportunities to use social networking to understand your target audience, to promote your brand or for HR reasons. I do not think that social network are the place to "bombard" community members with ads and sales material.

In the Q&A, they mentioned a number of great uses for LinkedIn including user groups within LinkedIn to share news stories and such.

A great session from three knowledgeable social networking speakers.


posted by Jody @ Wednesday, March 05, 2008  
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