By Jake Hird, Senior Research Analyst, Econsultancy (UK)
I’ve been asked quite a few times over the past couple of weeks for examples of social media marketing being used in a B2B context. This is actually more prevalent than a lot of marketers appear to realise – and is certainly something that’s not new to the marketplace.
Here’s some great examples of B2B organisations using social media with commercial purpose. Some are old, some new, some you might be familiar with, others perhaps not.
1. American Expresss
OPEN Forum and Facebook campaigns
One of note was the recent “Big Break” campaign which was a contest for SME’s, the five winners of which received an all-expense paid trip to Facebook HQ, for a one-on-one business makeover and $20,000 to aid their existing social media strategy.
2. Archer Technology
Online communities and marketplaces
Echoing American Express, Archer has a whole online community dedicated to enterprise governance, risk, and compliance software.
It’s often held up as a 101 case study in B2B social communities – especially the Idea Exchange – having more than 7,000 users actively communicating and collaborating. As an extension of this, Archer also has a marketplace where users can download applications that have been developed by other users.
Twitter and YouTube combo
Taking a lesson from Old Spice, business technology company Avanade, used YouTube to answer questions submitted by Twitter users. Straightforward, but effective, proving that these channels are not only for B2C companies. Click here >
TradeSpace claims to be the first UK business social networking site and this may well be true. Set up at the beginning of 2007, it now has more than 350,000 members. Arguably, it has B2C connotations, but its roots lie firmly in the B2B camp.
5. Business Week
The weekly US-based business magazine created a specific network site, Business Exchange, to engage with readers and increase online communication. As a result, it is proving to be extremely successful, having more than 40,000 users contributing over 1 million article links.
Trailblazing the way
Cisco has long been engaged in social media activity, often running campaigns alongside its on-going engagement strategy. To demonstrate the extent to which this has impacted the company, it recently launched a new router using only social channels and saved an estimated $100,000 in doing so.
In line with this, the “Future of Shopping” / borderless networks video has had more than 6m views.
Social site campaign and participation
Cree manufactures LED chips, with a large chunk of revenues coming from the B2B space. Given the difficult environment in which their products sit, it cleverly created a unique social site for an on-going campaign – the Cree LED Revolution.
Users are encouraged to submit their photos of poor lighting and each month, five entrants are selected to receive Cree products. The site was supported by video activity, something Cree seems to do very well, even away from this campaign. My personal favourite is the chocolate bunny.
Dell Business – Facebook and Youtube
Dell is an often-cited example of a company who has embraced social media and is reaping the rewards: Something that’s true across both its B2C and B2B divisions. Check out the Dell Business YouTube channel and Facebook Page as evidence for this.
Doctors.net is a great example of a business network, having around 90% of all UK medical professionals as members and working with pharmaceutical companies, private healthcare companies, public health institutions and charities.
Red Friday and select channels
Unashamedly, Econsultancy deserves to make this list. We’ve dipped our toes in all kinds of things, from photo tagging to social commerce, anyone remember Red Friday?
This was a member-get-member discount offer, with cash prizes to be won. However, we added a gamification / social twist, as we showed a live leaderboard of who had sold what.
We also try to make sure that social media engagement, collaboration and innovation is top priority, across multiple channels – Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Quora, YouTube and more – across the company as a whole.
11. Hinda Incentives
Blogging and Twitter
Hinda returned to an old favourite within social media, blogging, supported by the somewhat newer platform, Twitter. This was based around the main objective to drive more traffic to their site.
Since beginning this strategy, the company reports that it has won awards, industry recognition and authority, improved search visibility, leads, sales and boosted site traffic considerably.
Again, echoing a couple of other examples in this list, HP wanted to engage with smaller businesses – and carefully selected to take the approach of creating a custom-built site and blog, supported by external activity across Twitter and LinkedIn, where users could ask direct questions to the company.
The “world’s local bank” decided to create a specialist network where business could share information, whether they were HSBC customers, or not. However, this unfortunately now seems to have closed down, redirecting to their main business support area.
Everywhere, all times
Hubspot’s marketing of its software is taken to another level, given its activity across various social channels, alongside having a killer content strategy. Click here to view the video >
Facebook and Flickr
IdeaPaint sell paint to commercial businesses. It’s a great product, but paint isn’t exactly exciting. However, the company put together a carefully structured strategy, which appears to revolve mainly around Facebook and Flickr – resulting in social media now being the company’s largest source for leads.
As with IdeaPaint, Indium have a product that’s a hard sell. In answer to this, they turned to blogging – taking an almost mathematical approach to the channel and ultimately turning it into a core part of the overall marketing strategy.
This has helped position the company as a thought-leader, drives sales and deliver extra support to customers.
Online entertainment and community
Kinaxis is in the business of supply-chain management and they’ve cleverly built a whole online community around this, with a major social content strategy at the heart of this.
The company originally launched a blog, but saw their efforts fall flat, so decided to change its approach. Now, a home-grown community revolves around constant interaction and its own efforts in creating a series of entertaining videos.
The result? Significant increases in site traffic and conversions.
The software and technology giant has a long-standing history of supporting its advertising customers through its community portal, which contains research, insights, educational support and news, with engagement through various social channels at the heart of this.
A fair number of these B2B social media case studies are centered around online communities and the example from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is no different. Supported by various social channels and even custom forums, this is a great example of a niche B2B environment engaging heavily in social media.
21. RS components
DesignSpark social hub
The electronic product distribution company created a specific social hub, spanning four different languages, having the purpose of being a collaboration and engagement hub for Electronic Design Engineering.
One of the centrepieces of the site is the free tool store, which includes a free design tool that’s been downloaded more than 60,000 times and the site itself gathered more than 45,000 members within its first 12-month period.
Social CRM and a focus on content
It’s difficult to imagine the maritime industry getting to grips with social media, but Shipserv, one of the leading industry marketplaces, proves that in can be done very successfully.
As part of a wider marketing strategy and customer engagement strategy, various social approaches were taken, resulting in greater site traffic, alongside increased brand awareness and lead opportunities.
From an initial $30,000 social media marketing investment, it’s estimated the overall results achieved would have cost more than $150,000 through traditional media.
23. Steelmaster Buildings
Custom Facebook page
Steelmaster has really engaged with Facebook, creating a custom page, where users can get free quotes, access resources and directly subscribe to the newsletter.
Social supports wider marketing communications
The global delivery firm is heavily engaging in social media activity as part of its “We ♥ Logisitcs” campaign.
25. Virgin Media
Pioneers social site
Virgin Media set up its Pioneers campaign to connect business professionals and young entrepreneurs, in an effort to share skills and ideas.
Supported by other social channels, especially YouTube, the site is a creative example of a specialist business network. Click here to view the video >
To download this as a PDF on dialogue, Click here.