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Social Media in the Business – To – Business Environment

Social networking has been around a while. Now, social media is the hot topic for marketers. Yet, it’s a confusing area for many marketing managers, CEOs and CMOs. In this article I attempt to de-mystify social media, especially for b-to-b marketers.

This article addresses:

The Emergence of Social Media
The Landscape
Embracing Social Media
The Process
What to look for in a social media partner

The pay off? You’ve experienced it.
You’ve already experienced the pay-off of a “social” connection. You meet someone socially or in business or in your neighborhood, and you uncover a common interest: kids, gardening, books, biking, golf, whatever. You ask what they do for a living. Later, a business connection happens, or, a referral which leads to business. Social media is simply the explosion of this type of interaction, thanks to tools that have – and will – make socialMedia more prevalent.

We (you) can’t stop it
Social media is exploding because it affords people new ways to connect in the online world to form relationships in both their personal and their business lives. It’s Web 2.0 at its finest: user-generated content, growing exponentially, without a lot of push from companies selling product.

Social media defined
People (who typically don’t know each other) finding a common interest, then connecting and talking about that interest. It’s the fastest-growing segment of communications today. SocialMedia is a fusion of sociology and technology, transforming monologues (one to many) into dialog (many to many). Social media represents a shift in how people research, discover, read and share news and information and content.

A cultural transformation
Culture changes. Usually slowly. But not today, as “networking” transforms the information / communications world. Social media, which is exploding exponentially, is both a result of, and an mirror of, our new information world. It’s not a fad or “the latest thing” – it’s here to stay.

Today, people get information from people, not just from enterprise
Fact: 67% of consumers rely on information from other consumers, not from companies. This trend may not be as strong in the business environment as it is in the consumer world, but truly people have uncovered “social” venues for getting and giving information.

The buzz about your products, services
People are talking about your products and services – and those conversations are going on without you. Wouldn’t you rather be there to listen, participate, and promote and protect your brand?

Today’s social media landscape: consumer brands
Consumer brands are figuring it out: using Twitter, for example, to have customers and prospects “follow” them – and preparing to communicate socially on a mass basis in case of a PR emergency.

Today’s social media landscape: b-to-b brands
Business to business brands are watching more than acting right now, trying to understand the payoff. Both consumer brands and b-to-b marketers are seeking to develop a “social media strategy” – defining and maneuvering around the landscape. Since social media is here to stay, almost all marketers are at least paying attention to socialMedia and social marketing.

Interesting statistics!

o 68% of best-in-class companies have a process in place for monitoring social media.
o 21% of best-of-class companies plan to boost their social-media marketing budgets by more than 25% in 2009.
o Those companies that are investing in socialMedia as part of their marketing strategy say they are getting good preliminary results.
o There are over 9 million blogs on the internet. 40,000 new blogs pop up everyday
o 1 in 20 Americans are on Twitter
Source: Aberdeen Group (BtoB Magazine), Newsweek

YouTube stats!
o You think people (even b-to-b people) don’t view online videos? According to data published by market research company comScore, YouTube had more than six billion videos viewed in January 2009. It is estimated that 15 hours of new videos are uploaded to the site every minute, and that in 2007 YouTube consumed as much bandwidth as the entire Internet in 2000. In March 2008, YouTube’s bandwidth costs were estimated at approximately US$1 million a day. Alexa ranks YouTube as the third most visited website on the Internet, behind Yahoo! and Google.

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