In the last leg of my traditional journalistic career, I worked for a newspaper dedicated to business. Therefore, the phrase B2B (or business-to-business) was one that inhabited my day-to-day work life. However over the last year and a half, I’ve stopped looking at B2B as meaning business-to-business but rather brand-to-brand.
Social media made the difference
In an era where much correspondence evolves from social media, it’s hard to ignore this particular medium. But so often we aren’t sure who we are talking to when we are responding to a brand via social media.
Business to business was a great model until social media stepped onstage. And don’t get me wrong – the business-to-business model still works. However, as businesses use social media more to communicate with others in their industries, they maybe need to concentrate more on the brand than the business. That’s why the “who” is so important.
Who are you talking to?
I only work with one business brand via social media, ColorMetrix. The reason why I do is because as project manager for the company I am heavily involved in the day-to-day operations.
There have been other instances when clients have asked me to manage their social media networks. My response is that I’m willing to set up brands on the networks and train the company’s employees to eventually take over the accounts, but I won’t be responsible for it indefinitely.
The reason I advise having an employee manage a business’s social media account is because no one knows a company better than the people who work there. Businesses that farm out their social media presence to third party agencies can sometimes find it difficult to be credible or valuable online to clients, customers or to other brands.
Also if you are responsible for a business social media account, you should note that in the bio of the account. In the ColorMetrix bio, we make it clear that Jim and I are the voices behind the logo. Telling those engaging with the brand who is speaking for it adds credibility.
Back to the B2B
Once you start thinking about your business as a brand in social media, it will be easier and more rewarding to engage and interact with other brands. After you have established the “who” of your brand, it’s time to build online relationships. Below are my top 10 guidelines I follow for the B2B (brand-to-brand) relationship.
- Look for other brands in your industry and make a connection.
- Be conversational. Don’t just market without engagement.
- Don’t be afraid to tout other brands’ products and success stories. Maybe they will return the favor.
- However at the same time, consider your competition. You probably don’t want to tout another company’s service or product that you also provide.
- Join and participate in a Twitter chat. The weekly #printchat has been a huge resource for ColorMetrix.
- If another brand (or client or customer) engages with you on a network, always respond.
- Create a strategy for consistency of posts on a network. Nothing turns off a potential friend or follower more than viewing an account that hasn’t been touched in a month.
- Care about what you share. Read relevant blog posts and consider their impact before you share them on your network.
- Don’t share confidential information.
- Don’t be defensive or argumentative. Avoid controversial topics and swearing.
On my personal social media accounts and with the ColorMetrix account, I find I am more likely to engage with brands that follow similar guidelines like the ones I shared above. While it’s difficult to have hard and steady rules for engagement on social media, having a strategy has been beneficial and essential in growing some valuable B2B relationships.
What is your strategy for B2B in social media?