Social Networking for Corporations: Make it Personal

The new era of social media has made communication more personal than ever before possible. With tools like Facebook, Twitter, Ning, Linked In and many more to come, it is so easy to create a very personal dialogue with many many people. This is complete white space for corporations looking to find ways to use these mediums to connect with their customers. Unfortunately many companies jump into these waters and just try to be cool or just start spewing off press releases. What companies need to do is think through what kind of dialogue they are trying to establish. My former partner at bigwidesky, Eliot Frick, used to preach this all the time. Don't talk at people, talk to them - and listen. Listen to what they are saying and respond.

Ask yourself the question, what am I trying to communicate and why should people care? Don't move forward until you understand this. Also, how can I make this more personal and come across more human vs. corporate?

To me, these social networking tools are a prime way to get a sense of what your customers really care about. Where else can you get this kind of information without spending tons of money on market research, focus groups and other more traditional means. You can also use it to attract more attention to issues that are important to you and your organization. Everything is connected these days to a quick sentence and link on twitter, can direct someone to a more extended blog post that may allow people to learn more from a media article or something on a website. Additionally its a great way to humanize your company. Show that there are real passionate and good people behind that logo of yours.

If this plays out like most things in marketing, the big B2C companies will throw a good deal of money at this and experiment, some success stories will surface and others will follow the lead. Eventually the B2B companies will start to experiment as well. Any B2B companies that do jump into this early may really discover a real competitive advantage.

I've been experimenting with Twitter now for a couple weeks. I found an interesting post called 5 reasons why people won't follow you on Twitter. Its a good set of guidelines on what to do as well as the common pitfalls.

Are there any B2B companies out there using social media very effectively? Please share if you know - send me a link or catch me on Twitter if you don't want to post here.


Sam Harp said...


Being in the hotel business I have spent a lot of time researching social media the last 18 months. I agree with you companies tend to jump right into parts of it instead of having a plan to tie it all together. Social media is not only a great way to know what the customer wants, but it is a great way to drive business to your websites. Social media is also an effective way to help with web optimization which to me, is becoming one of the most important sales priorities.
Social media also can be used very effective to decrease the advantage big companies have on smaller companies that could not compete with big ad and branding campaigns before.
A lot of companies also tend to extremely underestimate the time it takes to use social media effectively.
I found your post a great post. Social media, and web optimization are a couple of my newer passions that i spend a lot of time with.

Mike Behr said...

Sam - thank you for your thoughts. Great point about it giving smaller companies a means to compete more effectively.

Any examples you've seen recently of a small or even large corporation using social networking effectively and wth positive impact?