Be grateful B2Bs! Communities are the guestbooks of the future…

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© Mat Hayward – Fotolia.com

When I started in the B2B industry 16 years ago, my boss was always saying that he wished for some business reference we could get from our clients, that we could post in our magazines (yes, we were print those days), and that we could leverage for our marketing and sales collatoral.

Those references and quotes would help us raise awareness. It would define and differentiate customer confidence. It would foster our sales funnel. And it would be the key to convert our sales opportunities much faster.

In other industries like hotels or restaurants, there was always a guestbook. People could tell the owners and managers what they liked, why they liked it and what made the location appear different from the competitors. In a B2B world, this was not possible. And there were reasons for it…

Who wanted to ruin the company’s tough won conditions of purchase?
Who would risk annoying their bosses for deeper supplier engagement?
Who said openly how highly rated the quality of a supplier’s communication effort was?
Who started positive questions and conversations by themselves without having a need to?
Who rates, reviews and recommends a B2B solution or a product without a need?

Today, people do that. In the B2B space maybe less than in the B2C world. But they do. And a reference in a B2B business has more value, more credibility and more sales power than when somebody likes a chocolate bar or some pair of sports-shoes – especially when not done on a social network but a corporate community.

But there are challenges coming along with this modern B2B reference development…

Companies and brands need to listen and monitor what their community is saying, and where they mention them. They need to categorize the value of a „Like“ versus the impact of a comment on a corporate blog. They need to define ways for measurement criteria. And they have to know when and where to store a comment – whether positive or negative.

Positive comments are a blessing. But what if the comment disappears on Twitter after some weeks? What if the Facebook comment losses attention as of permanent posting in a company’s timeline? What value has the „Like“ in general, if people don’t value Facebook as a B2B platform? Anf what if your company has a high Klout score but your clients have no clue what the impct of Klout score has for B2B?

Negative comments are an opportunity. Why not take the chance to answer to someone who was disatisfied with the solution or product? Assuming there are other clients experiencing the same problems, challenges, or undeliverables, B2Bs better respond. Is there a better chance to learn in order to get more references? Being „open“ is authentic, is valuable, is generating more conversations.

Companies and brands should be grateful. Today, we have platforms where we can get references: corporate communities, forums, blogs, social network accounts and so on. But we need to make sure, we create Social Media guestbooks which display and keep the reference, the business people that have shared them, those that have retweeted, repinned or „re-used“ them. Or why did we create and display case studies on our B2B websites for years?

Hey, when did B2B companies or brands have FANS? Just look at the community sites of IBM, Caterpillar, AMEX, Philips, Palladium, SAP and you will understand the importance of Social Media guestbooks.

I am asking myself the question, why are companies giving their hottest assets in the hands of Facebook, Twitter and the likes. And why they are not just changing their mindset. Answers welcome…!

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Ein Kommentar zu "Be grateful B2Bs! Communities are the guestbooks of the future…"

  1. Rusty Solomon am 07.09.2012 23:06 

    Great demonstration.Thanks for giving.this concept exciting weblog It is very useful.

    Rusty Solomon

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