Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rise of the Social Media Function

Many opportunities exist for B-to-B marketing organizations in the social media space. . . .and they're not all limited to what you can do with Twitter, Linked-In and YouTube. Just a few of these opportunities include:
  • Establish a direct, relevant connection with your customers as a source of voice of the customer for new product development (e.g., through an on-line community)
  • Improve customer satisfaction (e.g., enable customers to share experiences on-line by creating a self-running community where customers can interact with and learn from their peers)
  • Increase the speed for troubleshooting and R&D by reducing the distance between customers and engineering
  • Join the on-line technical conversations about your products that your customers are already having, by either leveraging your own community or listening to and participating in other companies' communities

Best-in-class organizations are adding a new social media role to their organization to capture these opportunities. The social media manager may report to the digital, interactive or web marketing team; integrated marketing communications; directly to the CMO if it's a new and/or especially important area; or even within product teams within more decentralized organizations. Potential responsibilities include:

  • Establish the social media strategy in collaboration with the digital marketing team, PR, events, product management as well as other parts of the organization. (Refer to a prior post: BtoB Marketing's Response to Social Media: Have we Lost all Control and Impact?)
  • Provide the training and infrastructure to empower your organization to interact with customers and prospects on-line (e.g., ambassador training program by Logitech, Intel's digital marketing training program)
  • Develop community sites within the company web site (e.g., Citrix's community site offers a clean, comprehensive community site design with many unique features)
  • Collaborate with product management, engineering and customer service to monitor and contribute to on-line communities. (internal and external) In some cases the social media team may act as direct contributors to on-line content or they'll provide the infrastructure and guidelines to facilitate contribution by other internal teams.

This role is only in the early stages across the technology industry; however, those companies that best leverage this new area to connect with prospects, customers and their markets will increase their differentiation in this increasingly mature technology industry.

Contact me at mgerard@idc.com for a copy of our recent telebriefing on "Key Success Factors for Your B-to-B Social Media Strategy". Do you have a social media role within your company?. . . please share your insight in the comments section below.

5 comments:

  1. Heather KernahanJuly 17, 2009 at 9:00 PM

    I attended the webinar this past week and really enjoyed the content. It was immediately valuable to the strategy and planning we've been working on for our social media program.

    Heather Kernahan

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  2. Thanks Heather. I tried to focus the content on strategy and BtoB case studies vs. the typical "How to use Twitter" or "How to run a community". Here's the link for those that missed the webcast:

    http://www.idgknowledgehub.com/research/?p=668

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  3. Michael,
    Great post. We naturally think of social media gaining early adoption by what we classically think of as ‘knowledge workers’ such as engineer and technicians. However the ultimate knowledge worker is the sales professional; when sales reps understand their prospect needs and can relate their offerings to those needs, they are successful. According the US Census, there are 14 Million ‘sales and sales related’ workers in the USA, so these workers are a big part of our economy.
    Though sales compensation is often higher than other knowledge professions, efforts to increase efficiency and effectiveness for sellers has lagged. However, in our work with leading edge companies, we are hearing that social media concepts can also improve the sales process, by providing sellers with rapid answers to prospect questions, enabling resources used by sales (such as RFP databases) to be much more dynamic, and by connecting sellers to their peers around the world to gather best practices. I hope to hear more of your thoughts specifically to how these emergent capabilities can help this important sector of the economy.
    John Held
    SAVO Group
    www.savogroup.com

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  4. Thanks for your sales enablement insight John. I believe that we're only scratching the surface today in leveraging social media to improve our customer creation and "maintenance" process.

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  5. We hosted an SF AMA event recently featuring Brian Solis, author of "Engage." Brian is very much a thought leader in this field and his book is well worth reading.

    Check out an interview we did with him the night of the event:

    http://fb.me/DGsRMRO1

    Best,

    Eric L. Steckel
    BARS+TONE

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