Embedding social in B2B

15th February 2016

Our world is a fundamentally social place. And if we are to truly embrace the customer in B2B, we must become social businesses. I’m not just talking about social media here. Ever since we lived in caves, we’ve come together in social groups to live our lives, to collaborate, and to share. As humans, we are social beings.

Social media has given us extraordinary new ways to connect and interact with others. What started out as an important social tool has become an important business tool as well.

Yet one of the biggest on-going challenges we face in B2B marketing is extending our social media activity beyond the marketing function and corporate account into our businesses and throughout our organisations.

On being social

Embedding social within our wider businesses remains problematic for B2B and professional services organisations. Granted, a lot more of our people have been getting involved with social media across our organisations over the past year or so. But many still remain sceptical and even fearful of using it. It’s no wonder really, our organisations are highly risk averse, and social media feels risky.

So we do social media training and create guidelines. We conduct social media ‘boot camps’ throughout our organisations, and many of us also have social media mentoring programmes. Some of us even have more formal ‘employee advocacy’ programmes. All with the objective of getting our people ‘on’ social media so they can become ‘employee advocates’ of our brands and help ‘push out’ our content.

But this is the completely wrong perspective and it’s why we’re struggling. Embedding social into our businesses is about more than getting our people using social media and creating ‘employee advocates’.

It’s about fundamentally changing the perspective of our organisations from what we do to how our customers AND employees feel and behave, from what’s important to us as marketers to what’s important to them, and most importantly, WHY IT MATTERS, both personally and professionally

We need to do a much better job helping our people at all levels in the organisation understand the purpose of social, the WHY for doing it. And this simply cannot be done with Powerpoint presentations and mentoring by young people who admittedly totally ’get’ social but do not always know how to ask the larger questions.

Why should our people push out our content anyways? What’s in it for them? How does it help them do their jobs better? Or become more employable over time? How do we better align the personal and professional (because that line has become extremely blurred in social)? What do they want to achieve with social media? What’s the bigger picture here, for them?

It’s not enough to just ‘do’ social. And simply being an employee advocate of our brands is not enough to get our people to embrace social. There must be a PURPOSE to it, otherwise it’s just more stuff continually being shoved out into a way overcrowded world.

I’ll be writing about specific tips for getting our people on social in future posts. I’m also speaking more about taking a different perspective to what we do at the #TMPForum on 24th February (‘Taking a Big Idea to Market’) and #B2BInProf on 25th February (‘Think different, do different, do differently’).

Heidi Taylor is an award-winning senior marketing strategist with 25 years' experience of helping organisations engage with their customers, creating impact and differentiation. She is a sought-after speaker at marketing conferences in the UK and internationally, and regularly contributes articles to marketing journals in print and online. You can follow her on Twitter @TaylorMadeInKew.

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