March 6, 2012

2012: The year of B2B social business adoption

How B2B firms can reduce their cost of sales 30-50% by using social platforms

Christopher S. RollysonBased on CSRA’s recent research as well as my 25 years’ experience with guiding B2Bs’ adoption of disruptive technology, I predict that 2012 will see significant social business takeup among B2B pioneers. First, a critical mass of B2B executive leaders are familiar enough with social technologies to consider them for the first time. Second, the business driver will be the economy. During the past 4-5 years, enterprises have continue to cut costs wherever they could, but few are performing at the level they want to be. B2B sales and marketing are under more pressure to perform very efficiently than ever, and some leaders will enlist social business because they have tried everything else.

B2B adoption

Although I have served numerous B2C enterprises, I have a more profound understanding of B2B because my businesses and employers have sold to businesses. Web 1.0 (“The Internet”) adoption is a very useful pattern for understanding Web 3.0 adoption (we’re way past Web 2.0 now). For brevity, I’ll use it, along with some other patterns, to explain why my crystal ball says that 2012 will see serious B2B adoption of social business.

  • Adoption of disruptive technology begins with consumers because their cost of trying new things is far lower than businesses’. In addition, families, since they include people of all ages, are hotbeds of disruptive technology adoption. What’s better than confounding parents by doing marvelous things that they don’t understand?
  • B2B executive parents, being upstanding responsible adults, always reject such frivolities at first; however, they cannot stop themselves from peering over their kids’ shoulders. When a situation occurs in which the disruptive innovation adds surprising value, their attitudes begin to change. They start experimenting (what’s the No. 1 reason execs joined Facebook?), but since they have preconceived notions about how things should work, the learning process is slow. But they eventually learn to adopt the disruption in their personal lives.
  • Once executives get comfortable enough with the disruption, the adventurous portion of them starts taking its disruption-enabled “approaches” to doing things to work. Experimentation continues for a while, during which the disruption is a “nice to have” option. In some cases a situation develops in which the innovation adds surprising value in the work context, which drives adoption further.
  • Social business — applying social technologies to evolve business processes — is reaching this point. Another Web 1.0 lesson is that the early 2000s’ bad economy helped Internet adoption after the meltdown. Although most executives were too ready to dismiss “the Internet” as a fad, enough of them persisted and proved the value in increasing areas of business.
  • At PricewaterhouseCoopers, I helped B2Bs apply Internet applications to their business processes. Once they dropped the assumption that the Internet was about and money-losing online bookstores, they could start thinking about how they could save serious money by empowering stakeholders with real-time information and the ability to transact with their enterprise systems.

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December 17, 2010

How to get your B2B company to use social media

Three experts demonstrate how B2B companies can capitalize with social media

David SparkThis is the first installment of the “Social Media ROI Series” (#SocialMediaROI) that my company Spark Media Solutions is hosting and producing for Zuberance.

Working for a B2B company and you don’t think social media applies to you? Is your product too expensive to see any benefit from social media? Neither concern is true. Even B2B companies with high ticket items and long sales cycles can benefit from social media. And this was the discussion in the first episode of Zuberance’s “Social Media ROI Series” Webinar

In the first installment, I led a high-level discussion about leveraging the power of social media to achieve B2B marketing objectives.

  • First, Paul Dunay (@pauldunay), Global Managing Director of Services and Social Marketing for Avaya, outlines how the enterprise communications giant streamlined and fortified its approach to social media — and how it has been able to quantify the ROI.
  • Next, CDW’s Sr. Segment Marketing Manager, Lauren McCadney (@LMcCadney), shares the online retailer’s strategic approach to tapping social media networks to drive sales, build its brand, provide responsive customer service, and authentically engage with important customers.
  • Finally, Rob Fuggetta (@RobFugetta), Founder and CEO of Zuberance (@zuberance), offers three essential tips for B2B marketers looking to use social media to identify and activate their brand advocates.

The show also features questions from the Social Media ROI Webinar Series live audience. Please listen and watch the slidecast. Or, if you like you can subscribe to the Social Media ROI podcast via iTunes or RSS.

December 14, 2009

Why B2B companies should be using social media

It’s about targeting the right few, not the undifferentiated many


Ayelet NoffMany B2B companies ask me whether social media is right for them. This post is all about why social media and B2B go hand in hand.

Social media is all about conversational marketing, and that’s why it works so well with a B2B strategy. Social media is not about the masses. It is about reaching your target audience. Listening before selling and hearing before talking. Continue reading