"Why aren't there more case studies of business to business organizations using social media?"
I get asked this question all of the time. The truth is that most people are not looking hard enough. Yes, we're all excited when a big brand scores a slum dunk and everyone gets all excited about capturing likes on Facebook, but the dirty little secret of the Internet is this: is you think that social media is good for consumer brands, it's much more powerful for those in the business to business space.
The opportunities are everywhere.
The best business to business sales are done through relationships, testimonials, white papers and general content marketing (unless you're in a highly structured, regulated and procurement driven process, but there is still an opportunity to leverage social media). If social media can't help you augment all of those areas, I'm not sure we're all living on the same planet. Are the consumers there? We tend to forget that those consumers are also human beings. They're on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Speaking of LinkedIn...
It was just announced that LinkedIn acquired SlideShare (more on that here: LinkedIn Acquires Professional Content Sharing Platform SlideShare For $119M). This is a prime example of the business side of social media picking up steam. It's about much more than making sure you have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile and that you're posting presentations to SlideShare, it's about the very real reality that more and more businesses are turning to the Web as a form of social proofing. They're looking to dig a little deeper into the online profiles and information that businesses share as a way to "get to know you"... and your business.
Shun social media for business at your own peril.
People will complain about the time and effort that it takes to build valuable connections online (and whether there is any ROI associated with it). They're right. It's amazing how strikingly similar the online world is to our day to day lives, isn't it? Did you think that a robust LinkedIn profile instantly qualifies you as someone worthy of doing business with? What we're learning is that it's not about how you present yourself online, it's also about how you conduct yourself. It's about who you are connected to, what kinds of engagement you are having and how you connect, share and contribute in these spaces as well. It's going to take effort... but in that effort comes the value.
For those used to Facebook and Twitter, this is all very obvious.
But, for those who are looking at social media from a business-only perspective, the river is growing bigger and deeper with each and every passing day. As much as these channels provide a publishing platform for individuals to share and connect, there is no reason why you can't leverage them in a smart and strategic way for your business to have a truly connected presence. In short, if you think that social media is just about "the conversation," you're missing the bigger opportunity.
What social media means to business to business.
What makes any media "social" is the ability for the media (in and of itself) to be as shareable and findable as possible. That's the core social action. Once you accomplish that, more people can engage and connect (and yes, this sometimes leads to actual conversations) If you're not in the business of making what you do as shareable and as findable as possible, then what, exactly, are you in the business of? The LinkedIn and SlideShare deal should make you realize how many tremendous business opportunities are missed - each and ever day - by businesses who wrongfully think that social media is just about businesses acting in a more human way. Social media makes your business more findable and more shareable.
That's core... isn't it?