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Marketing Profs had a great post last week about the benefits of social media for B2B companies.  They focused primarily on the research advantages it offers, with the following highlights:

  • Conducting research to understand more about a prospect’s or client’s “buying desires.”
  • Finding decision makers for certain products and services.
  • Extracting names from a given community for lead generation.
  • Getting answers to questions, reaching out to other experts.
  • Finding joint-venture marketing partners and creating various “cooperative opportunities.”
  • Connecting with past customers, keeping them up-to-date.

The research capabilities that social media channels offer are great, without a doubt.  But I think there’s more potential that it can offer B2B companies, especially in the way of brand outreach and thought leadership.  A few ideas are below**:

Brand Outreach

  • People often congregate online based on common interests or professions.  Many of these people are, as you guessed, employed in their field and, if not in a decision-making position, are at least closer to the decision-maker than you may be.  Join in their conversation in a valuable way.
  • Sponsor groups or networks that offer a forum of exchange and engagement for people that might be in what you consider your “target company” (see above).
  • Rethink how you communicate with your clients.  Offer them a platform of 2-way conversation.

Thought Leadership

  • Provide valuable information that establishes your company as an innovate thinker in your industry.  The end goal is to position yourself as an industry leader.
  • You could post a blog on useful industry information, again providing timely and innovative content to your readers.  Kinaxis has done a good job at this with their blog, The 21st Century Supply Chain.
  • Develop a complete content production program with such things as eBooks, white papers, webcasts etc and utilize social media channels to disseminate your information.
  • Part of the idea of a content production plan is that the information that you’re outputting is ultimately connected to your brand in the eyes of the reader.

And of course, there’s good ole’ brand management and brand equity.

** This is not about broadcasting your brand.  Developing a concrete social media strategy is key for success!  Haphazard entry into the social media space usually ends up being ineffective at best, and detrimental at worst.

Can you think of anything other ways that social media can benefit B2B companies?