Despite social media’s widespread use for internal and external corporate communications, I still encounter a fair number of business owners and C-level executives who fail to understand its value. The fact is, digital technologies offer significant opportunities for B2B dialogue and profile building.
When properly leveraged, social platforms can be used to establish a company as an authority in its field by allowing key spokespeople to demonstrate industry expertise. Participating in online business communities can help achieve this. For a textile manufacturer we work with, we regularly monitor and identify discussion threads with wholesalers on relevant LinkedIn groups. Whether you begin a conversation or join one within a LinkedIn group, over time this will establish you as a thought leader.
“Knowledge market” websites such as LinkedIn Answers and Quora offer another channel through which an organization’s expertise can be showcased. These popular Q&A sites provide a platform for site users to ask questions on topics related to a specific industry, and an opportunity for experts to answer them. As there are a large number of B2B conversations occurring on these sites, we monitor them on behalf of our clients and alert them when there are questions relevant to their industry that require response. This results in increased credibility amongst their stakeholders, as well as prospective clients.
Participating in Twitter chats and live tweeting from industry conventions are other techniques that allow a company spokesperson to share their insights with their peers. When one of our clients, an international concrete company, was set to attend the industry’s go-to annual conference, we worked to secure an opportunity for the company’s CEO to tweet on behalf of the conference organizers. This positioned the CEO as a thought leader and, combined with live tweeting, showed anyone following the conference hashtag (whether or not they attended) that she was among the most prominent CEOs at the event.
Effective B2B social engagement takes time, dedication, consistent interaction and sharing of industry intelligence. It is strategic and aligns itself with a company’s overall communications, marketing and advertising calendars. Brands that do so will discover a new ROI – the type that defines social networking. We think of it as a return on influence.