B2B Marketing Through Social Media


Oscar has made a mint in the doughnut industry, not an easy thing to do in a town of only 10,000 people.  There was a bakery and a couple of women who called themselves caterers.  (They were not!) 

Now Oscar was known for two things: making a mean doughnut and for being mean, not in the tasty fried and frosted covered since of the word.  He was mean to his customers, mean to his employees, mean to his wife and mean to his dog.  His dog eventually left him.  Spot found comfort and contentment across the street with Jamie Portman.  Jamie was nice a pleasant fellow who owned a mill, which ground wheat into flour.  He knew that the essential thing to any successful business was having great serviceand when the Age of Information hit town, building that reputation through social media.

How could these two businesses benefit from working together, though they had severely different business cultures?  Both men eventually came to use business-to-business (B2B) marketers to assess obstacles and handle communication problems within the business relationship.  These marketers relied on 6 tips for using online social business forums to create productive inter-industry discussions that generate more qualified leads, drive sales and boost productivity.

1.   Comment from the Perspective of a Thought Leader

  • Answer questions up front. (Dont be wishy-washy.)
  • Provide both qualitative and quantitative supporting evidence. (Opinions backed by data or hard numbers carry more weight.)
  • Acknowledge alternative solutions. (Failure to acknowledge other options makes for a weak point of view.)
  • Write clearly and concisely. (Mistakes will not wow prospects.

2.   Respect Other Users

No amount of posturing, shameless self-promotion or insulting others will impress potential customers in a Q&A forum.  This is not to say that marketers should not challenge other users entirely.  (Sometimes disagreement produces some of the best opportunity for a savvy marketer to make headway with potential customers.)

3.   Join in a Conversation

Respond directly or acknowledge what others have already stated.  Chime in early to a question that will eventually receive a significant following. (Take advantage of the functionality available on Q&A sites to stay in the discussion.)

4.   Be Consistent and Cover the Subject Matter Comprehensively

The odds are tiny that a single, brilliant answer will convince a potential buyer to reach out to your business.  To increase those odds, post thoughtful answers across a number of topics related to your trade and industry.

Part of becoming a thought leader is demonstrating knowledge across an entire industry, not just one topic that directly relates.  If you can, also consider spending some time commenting on other topics outside your business experience.

5.   Take a Long-Term View

It certainly takes time to post thoughtful answers across a number of topics.  And it makes little sense for marketers to try to blanket everything in one day, given their schedules.  The answer is to take a long-term perspective.

  • Answer one or two questions per day as part of a social media strategy.
  • Written ideas remain fresh and innovative and Q&A site marketing will not become a huge time distraction.

6.   Start Your Own Q&A Forum on LinkedIn

Interact.  A great way to achieve this is to post questions to the Q&A site community or create a forum or question flow that acts as a information hub for other interested parties.

Maintaining something like a LinkedIn Group takes time.  It takes:

  • Marketing
  • Engaging, and
  • Prompting others

If the resources are there, take the initiative, but Q&A site marketing can still produce results without the extra effort.

As for Jamie and Oscar, their ability to effectively communicate, educate and inform through social media outlets and business forums has built stronger inter-business relationships and sales continue to rise now if they could only work on making Oscar a little easier to get along with.