By Mark Helfen
Social media has become something of a code word that can mean many things. A way of keeping personal connections. Networking with professional associates. Keeping up with the news.
Not to limit to using Facebook. Twitter has become a way to both keep in touch, communicate, and sell a brand or product. LinkedIn for business connections.
But in addition to person-to-person connection, Facebook in particular has become a way to manage a brand, promote and generate consumer interest, and just plain old sell stuff to consumers.
But what about business-to-business? Not only selling, but also communicating with everyone in your sales channel, keeping people informed, motivated, and helping their success. And yours.
The Monday, December 12 SVForum Marketing SIG will focus on how social media can be used in business-to-business marketing, sales, and channel management. In a panel titled Forecast 2012: The Challenges and Opportunities with Social Business, six marketing experts will discuss using social media in b-to-b applications.
Well, maybe not experts. I discussed the panel with two of its members: Panel chair Laura Ramos, Vice President, Industry Marketing Service NA at Xerox Corporation, and Natascha Thomson, Senior Director, Social Media Audience Marketing, SAP.
What I heard was that "this area is so new," anyone who claims to have all of the answers is just making things up. So our panelists are all experienced marketers, and have the informed opinions of practitioners who are implementing social media in a business setting. But all of the answers don't yet exist.
There are a lot of moving parts that need to connect. People within your company, your customers, channel partners and distributors all could benefit, and might have useful information to share. But how to keep people engaged, even "delighted," and not make this just more work on top of what they already do - to avoid "social burnout," or "social fatigue."
One example is Cisco, where there are over 1 million external customer engineers, some working for large businesses, but many in small operations or individuals. Keeping them informed, connected with each other, with Cisco, and with their customers is a big job. Social strategies could help.
All of this new openness and communications adds risk. So the panel will discuss how to minimize "risk and complications" in implementing your social strategy.
According to Ramos, lots of people are talking about b-to-b social media, but you might be surprised how few are actually doing it. It's more difficult that it seems.
So come to the next Marketing SIG, and get a first hand perspective on business social media.
PLEASE REGISTER IN ADVANCE at our meetup page:
Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mark_helfen