I frequently encounter one particular notion when discussing social media with prospective B2B clients: “We don’t tweet, and nobody tweets about us. Why should we care about social media?”
If you are a B2B tech, pharma, energy, supply chain, logistics, or similar type of company there probably aren’t many people talking specifically about you or your products (currently) across social media channels. It might seem that spending any time in social media would be a waste of time for your company.
The truth, however, is that there are conversations happening across social channels — even if they are not specifically about you — that are extremely valuable for you to be aware of, engage in, and even potentially lead.
It is fascinating how the world of business is becoming more social. This is not a fad; social is permeating every aspect of business — product development, customer support, innovation and education, competitive insights, sales and marketing, communications, and even HR. The conversations that were taking place at trade conferences and expos, in print trade journals, in conference rooms and training rooms, and in cafeterias and even at the water cooler, are all now becoming digitized and instantly accessible around the globe.
Even if you aren’t currently publishing content through the various social networks that have now achieved critical mass, and even if people aren’t mentioning your brand or specific products by name, if you ignore the conversations that are taking place about the general technology, broader industry and environments you operate in, you are missing out on an extremely valuable source of insight for your company.
Social intelligence includes three phases maturation: Listening, Engaging, and Leading. ALL companies should at least be listening. While the volume of conversation varies across topic, industry, and interest, there are insights to be gleaned, relationships to be nurtured, and trends and innovations to keep up with that are valuable to you, regardless of what type of organization you belong to. In a rapidly evolving social age, you simply can’t afford to not listen.
As you begin listening, your perspective expands and new ideas, relationships, and opportunities present themselves. The constant stream of information available can even become overwhelming. This is where intelligent tools can help you find, analyze, categorize, and prioritize the content available, and point you to what is most interesting and important. Regardless of what tool you select, it is critical to start listening to and understanding the conversations that impact your industry, your competitors, your customers, and ultimately — your bottom line.
Not listening to and understanding the conversations taking place in social media because you aren’t publishing content or because people aren’t mentioning you by name is akin to not reading or watching the news because you aren’t mentioned in the article or on the broadcast.
Once you have perfected the art of listening you can graduate to engagement, and ultimately to leadership. These are the stages where you start interacting with clients and partners via social media, then publishing valuable content and taking a thought leadership position in your market. If you are competing with one of the B2B tech companies that still thinks social media isn’t for them, you have a perfect opportunity to differentiate yourself and lead.