Your Insight Wanted: Help build a B2B social media plan

Along with Kate Warwick, the founder of PR Savvy, we are developing a social media public relations plan, and workshops, to help a number of the agency’s B2B clients prepare for how they will approach this emerging medium.

While social media for B2C companies is better defined, with terrific case studies to look at such as what Comcast, Skittles and JetBlue have achieved, we are finding that it is harder to find a lot of examples of many relevant and successful B2B social media PR campaigns.

That’s why in this blog post we want to try a crowdsourcing approach, and turn to you for some help. Can you provide some insight for us? We’ve got some questions, below, and hope you’ll leave a comment with your feedback.

For background, we’ve been helping several clients, in the IT industry, join the social media community, with focus on the big three destinations of LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, and looking at possibilities with YouTube, Flickr and other more multimedia oriented destinations. The best case study we have found for B2B companies in this industry is how Cisco is doing it.

With Cisco’s  nearly 50K followers for @CiscoSystem, and high use of multimedia possibilities, including frequent live streaming of events, filming and posting of executive’s candid discussions, using a Flip Camera, and integrated cross-platform approach, no wonder they get listed time and time again as the number one example of how to use social media for B2B communications. Add in the fact that they have a tweeting super star of a CTO with Padmasree Warrior (@Padmasree), and this is our dream vision for what we’d love to see a company achieve.

Reality though is that budgets, and commitment, from many companies just isn’t as strong as Cisco’s situation. Cisco also admits that much of the social media campaign’s drive is a fantastic tie-in for demonstrating the power of the products and services they provide.

While we may not be able to achieve Cisco’s level of success, we do think there is plenty that can be done, especially by testing out the social media waters with an initial DIY approach. We are working with these companies to develop a workable social media strategy, and a reality-based internal staffing plan for managing social media. The approach we are crafting is geared to making sure everyone involved in this process is actually using the medium, and understanding it. If the programme grows and becomes difficult to handle internally, we’ll be looking at external social media staffing options for support.

For basics, we are developing a three-step approach to social media for B2B, which includes:

STEP 1-Listen!

We are counselling that clients spend time in an R&D stage, of a minimum of three months, really finding out who is saying what, where they are saying it, and how to understand the conversations that are already happening in social media.

STEP 2 – Build!

In this stage we are advising that companies think about how they will build and design a presence in key destinations of LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, and how they will generate community for these new extensions of their brand.

STEP 3 – Engage!

In this stage, we’ll be watching to see when a company is ready to get active in the social media space, especially with attention to planning and making firm decisions about the type of content they will share, and how they will share it. With nuts and bolts like staffing, and editorial scheduling, and any production of multimedia content, it will be time to plunge in, make stuff happen, and start really being part of the give and take conversations

What do you think?

Are we on the right track?

Have you implemented a B2B social media campaign and can you share some learning’s?

Can you recommend what B2B social media campaigns you really like?

Please leave your comments! We are learning and want your help.

For any direct input feel free to email me: lisa AT haimediagroup DOT com

And also thank you to Brian Solis for the in-depth lessons provided in his book Engage! And thank you to the internet for the many free online social media tutorials. And thank you London Social Media Week for the upcoming workshop events that we’ll be attending. And thanks to you for input.

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  • Ben Acheson

    Not a bad start. In the ‘listen’ stage it’s important to identify influencers and influential communities.

    The ‘build’ stage you should start by identifying all the relevant communities and social networks. First test all of them. Make sure you focus on the ones that work best in the real world. For B2B I’ve found a Facebook presence to be almost entirely ineffective – although it doesn’t hurt to have a presence, and your web content should have a Facebook button.

    Before engaging you should start to build your profile and authority. Before interating take time to make sure your online profiles have some content on them, posted over a period of days at the very least. Otherwise you look like a ‘bot’ just diving in, with no legend, no existence, no substance.

    When you engage, don’t sell, don’t advertise, just help and interact. Become part of the fabric of the community and its structure will start to support you organically.

  • Charlotte

    I think you’re on the right track.

    The only thing I’d say from a brand point-of-view is I think it’s important to spend time with a company before a campaign to really understand what they’re all about. Not just checking in with the managers but sitting in the office and seeing what the staff like/dislike. They can be a massive source of inspiration, and if they like what you’re doing they’re more likely to join in and share your campaigns with their contacts in the industry.

  • Kate Warwick

    Thank you guys. That’s really helpful, especially about becoming part of the fabric of social media and spending time in the office to see what the staff like/dislike. Good advice!

  • Adam

    Lisa, what I have found hard in the past is the final peice which we are all struggeling with that is probably step 4 in your plan i.e. ‘measure’ measure the return on the activity and or its effect. I have bulild groups with over 10,000 members but little or no return direct to the business, at first glance.

    This can put people off as the effort is quite high and we got a lot of why are we doing this questions.

    We found that the answer lay in the amplification piece and being able to report back on that, which bought more time and then a small tactical tweak which was using our own ‘short’ URL’s

    I hope this help, I dont think anyone has the answer but your approach is sound.

  • Lisa Devaney

    Thank you Ben, Charlotte and Adam, all good feedback and appreciated. Yes, agreed that the Facebook presence for B2B is a questionable, but agreed Ben that a presence is needed. It is a connection point, and I have seen some B2B companies really build out that presence, such as Accenture. It does seem like the big three destinations to be present are LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. We are also exploring options for YouTube, Flickr and the potential of Quora for thought leadership showcase, but want to do the big three right first.

    Measurement is indeeed a difficult point for B2B Adam, when I’ve worked on social media campaigns for B2C clients, the uptake and ability to see product volume shift, in correlation with a campaign, is easier to prove the medium’s value.

    Kate and I are thinking about everyone’s input, thank you.