Big Blue’s a social media star

24 Nov

The term ‘social media’ has seen B2B marketers and PR professionals reach for the headache tablets. Developing a social media strategy is undoubtedly a must (‘Engage or die’, as Brian Solis puts it), but finding a good starting point and getting buy-in from busy key advocates within the company can become a painful exercise.

Large entities have usually developed a strong culture of a few key people communicating key messages with a few key channels (i.e. favoured journalists and analysts). Moving into a World where any employee can engage anyone in the World is overwhelming to say the least. It raises images of a series of scenarios that sees the person with responsibility for social media, running around trying to mop up leaked information, incorrect messages and general tomfoolery.

In trying to figure out a way forward in B2B social media strategy I’ve come across a great deal of success stories in the B2C space. These examples indicate that social media is a great way to build brands, create relationships and ultimately contribute to profit making and there is only a handful of bad examples. However, B2B case studies are a little harder to uncover. That’s why it was great to read an article on Computing.co.uk highlighting ‘Big Blue’s’ awe-inspiring success in social media.

IBM has benefitted from £2.5m a year in productivity savings since it implemented its social media strategy in 2007. Money speaks louder than words and this is a fantastic example of how social media can produce great rewards for a large B2B company.

IBM is making full use of its employees’ brainpower, while allowing customers behind the scenes insight. This humanises the big brand, builds relationships and allows the creation of meaningful content. Not only is IBM successfully using social networks as part of its marketing and sales process, but it is leveraging them for cross-functional collaboration, enhancing product development.

This offers me hope for social media in the B2B space and certainly provides lessons for other large companies considering how to utilise social networks.

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