Hey, stranger: Social media meets B2B

Another perspective of the Social Media/B2B potential

From Computer World Blogs
Mark Everette Hall

There’s a new website dedicated to introducing B2B marketers to the joys of social media, and it’s called, in a no-nonsense B2B style, Social Media B2B. I’m certain some companies can strengthen their ties with business partners by judiciously applying social networking tools to their marketing efforts. But for most firms, I’m betting it’s a waste of time and money.

computerworldB2B marketing is a different kettle of fish than consumer marketing, and it should appear obvious to readers of the Social Media B2B site. In a post on the main page called “B2B Buyers Are Social,” the item’s contention is based on a Forrester research report that the blogger says, “states that buyers in the B2B area are one of the most social groups around.”

(So, it must be true, right? Just like all those Standard and Poors and Moody’s reports on how sound U.S. financial markets were.)

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m sure B2B buyers as social animals are probably right up there with Paris Hilton. But as business people doing their jobs to assess products and services? Think again.

In that same post, the author quotes another blogger who claims that B2B marketers not already on the social media bandwagon now “means you’re late.” The blogger points to Forrester’s Groundswell awards as proof.

Well I’m not sure about you, but my reading of who won these awards is that, with the possible exception of Nerd Network, B2B social networks are conspicuously missing from the winners’ circle. But even the Nerd Network is really an old-fashioned forum for end users of a business tool. And forums, even tarted up with a social media user interface, are not exactly cutting edge marketing activities.

Yes, yes, social networking is all the rage. Twitter is growing by leaps and bounds. Facebook is the next Google. And who needs the New York Times when you’ve got snarky news reports on Reddit? But as a tool for B2B marketers, it’s a fad in search of a purpose. Then there’s a real possibility you’ll inadvertently infect your B2B partners’ computers with new social media malware. Won’t that be fun to explain.

I’m sure there will be scant examples of where it makes some sense, but is it the cost-effective tool most B2B marketers need in these tough times to generate more business?