The 10 Commandments of B2B Social Media

Good morning, Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays. As I sit here awake early with  my baby awaiting everyone else (who, by the way, are still sleeping), I decided to share a little holiday cheer by way of my 10 commandments of B2B Social Media.

B2C and P2P are the easiest forms of using social media for most, and we have plenty of materials available in the blogosphere about how to attack those areas. But what I see lacking is a breadth of content about B2B.

So let’s start simple…10 important tips for how to use social media  correctly in B2B.

  1. Respect those who have chosen to befriend you, lest they move on. Yes, the various social media are great tools for reaching more eyeballs than ever before, especially if you are a cash-strapped small business. But you can never take it for granted. Social media got “opt in” right where email did not, and “opt out” is quicker and easier than ever before. Don’t forget it.
  2. If thine must pitch your product or service, back off the hard sell. If you want to play in the social media circles, there’s nothing worse than shoving your sales pitch down the throats of those who give you a couple of seconds of their time. Of course you can talk about your product, technology, reviews, case studies, etc.; just drop the used car salesman act or you’ll find yourself posting tweets and updates to no one.
  3. Buy me a drink before you ask me back to your apartment. Okay, the biblical verbiage got tired quickly, so onto other metaphors. Never forget that, regardless of communications medium chose, you are still dealing with real people. Engage. Show interest. Identify a need…first! Keep in mind you still need to use general rules of diplomacy and courtesy, whether face-to-face, on a conference call, or exchanging ideas on Twitter or LinkedIn.
  4. What I need is a chisel, or maybe a shovel, or wait, was it a pickaxe? Don’t get enamored with the tools. How many sites and systems have we seen for “getting 100′s of followers a day”, measuring Twinfluence (whatever the heck that is), and calculating the time of day tweeps tweet? Yes, use the tools right, but I long for the day when the conversation is more about what we are accomplishing via social means rather than where we are taking part in the conversation.
  5. Go to the land of your people, and you shall be rewarded. Remember the classic rules off marketing, even if they no longer all apply. Experienced marketing professionals have already figured out how to target the right audience. If you are playing around on a new social media site, make sure you can find them or you’ll just waste valuable time and effort on the wrong prospects.
  6. Be sure you have a way to lead your sheep to water, or you will be the one with thirst. Sorry about the “sheep” metaphor, but the point is pretty clear. Just talking to someone via social media doesn’t pay the bills. How are you going to drive them to your website? How will you get people into your sales funnel? How will you prove that this is where the lead originated? How will you measure it all? Sure, you can just look for some quick exposure, but at the end of the day, you have to figure out how to turn it into revenue.
  7. Watch what you say, because your potential and current customers are listening. That’s right, even if they’re not participating and seem like they aren’t paying attention, they are. Don’t say anything that you wouldn’t stand in front of a reporter and share. Because saying it on a social media property is just as likely to make its way to the press as it is your mom or brother-in-law.
  8. Pay it forward and it will come back two fold. This is a simple rule of networking that sometimes gets completely forgotten. If you want your network to bring you value, you must first offer value to them. Think about the Emotional Bank Account idea from Stephen Covey for example.  Believe in Karma or not, business is about people first, because they buy, spend money, share good experiences with friends, and ultimately, they make or break you.
  9. When in doubt, shut up! Quite simply, if your options are to say something dumb, offensive, or otherwise highly controversial, you are safer just to abstain from commenting. Unless you buy into the belief that “no PR is bad PR” and like to take enormous risks. In the vast majority of cases, discretion is more important.
  10. Keep it real, and keep it fun. While it’s crucial to take 1-9 into account, people want to engage with a real person with whom they can relate. Be conversational. Ask questions. Even crack lighthearted jokes. You want to build a relationship, just make sure it’s a potentially productive one.

On that note, I’ll get back to my holiday and leave you to yours. I hope the holidays are all that you hoped for them to be.