Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Social Media for B2B

I'm still debating whether social media applies to the B2B market. For example, if government niche marketers most likely won't be using social media because of the bureaucracy that remains in the market, but surely governments talk to each other and complain and have some way of communicating.

Social media right now is dominated by all kinds of people who have caught the internet bug and are blogging, posting reviews on everything from restaurants on Yelp!to software on CNet and all this influence through non-marketer authorities in a peer group is really changing the way people buy things. Products these days have to be sold by "organic" product evangelists, not by marketers. So the marketing role is changing because marketers now have to mobilize product evangelists rather than educate the market on what they should or should not buy.

Hark back to the 1990s and you will remember commercials that tell you why Pepsi is better than Coke and vice versa. I don't think products are sold that way anymore--it's more about who buys the product and if they are in the same peer group.

Do we see this kind of behavior happening in the B2B side? In a way, yes, because if we didn't, then companies would not post case studies on their websites. Companies are highly risk adverse where costs are concerned and they often don't want to purchase something if their partners or competitors are not buying the same product.

Therein lies an answer: corporations may be more slow moving in comparison to individual consumers and as the overall population gets more educated with social media, then perhaps we will see a different dynamic in the B2B market. However, this sort of thing is still emerging and there are different issues such as security, IT management and brand management that will come into play.

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