Is there such thing as B2B on social media?

I recently sat in a meeting with a potential client, the CEO of a local B2B organization. He was adamant that I understand that his company was B2B and that the social media strategy needed to target only the executives of other businesses, not regular people.  You see, he expressed, other executives would be impressed by the financial success of his business, his personal history and, of course, a heavy dose of sales pitches for his product. After all, that’s what he’d want to see.

me: “Are those were the things you look at when you’re on Facebook?”

mr. ceo: [ blank stare ]

me “Are you on Facebook?”

mr. ceo: “No.”

me: “You mean that your CEO associates haven’t asked you to friend them on Facebook?”

mr. ceo: “No. We don’t have time to talk about fluff like that.”

me: “Hmmm. So, what about Twitter? Have you ever looked at your company’s Twitter account. You have a lot of followers.”

mr. ceo: “Really? How did that happen?”

me: “OK, to reiterate, you still want me to target other CEOs just like you?  You are a CEO that doesn’t do Facebook or Twitter and has no interest in that side of business.”

mr. ceo: “Yes. I said that, didn’t I? And businesses – lots of businesses. They’re the ones who buy our product. We are B2B.”

me: “You are hiring me to work on your social media accounts for you. Don’t you think that maybe other CEOs have hired social media folks like me to manage their social media accounts? Shouldn’t I then be pointing my posts and strategies at those other individuals? If I can capture those people’s attention and interest, I could get them to share our posts and tweets and have a conversation with me in their feeds.  If they like what we have to say,they might feel much more comfortable researching your product and then bringing that information to their CEOs to consider.”

mr. ceo: “Oh… Now I think I understand. When do you start?”

A building or even a business doesn’t set up, post on or monitor social media. Human beings do. And, as much as an executive who hires someone to “do” their social media wants to believe it, generally only a small handful of those human beings are other executives. The people interacting on social media are people who are social, engaged with the mission of the company and who enjoy interacting with other human beings in an online setting. They have a customer service attitude, a marketing intuition and a human voice.

While you will follow and be followed by other companies in your industry, those company pages are monitored by human beings. Interactions are usually a symbiotic relationship around the engaging content you are sharing. You want that content to be seen by the clients that you have and the clients you want to have – to make people in the social media role at their company become aware of the message that your social media guru is putting out on your behalf, and to send your company’s name up their ranks.

The people whose job it is to look at social media posts and tweets all day, don’t want to be marketed to or hard sold. They want to read engaging content that pulls them in and stands out from the noise of a thousand people hawking their wares. They want to read something that will make them look good when they share it on their own social media pages.

As with most of our clients, the proof will be in the numbers. While mr. ceo will likely never look at the social media sites that represent him, I will thoroughly enjoy the conversations we will have on his behalf in his industry. I will forward him information on relevant followers/potential clients in a ‘voice’ that he understands – charts and articles and web links. He will be happy because, at his networking events, he will get in-person affirmations that he has such a wonderfully warm and human online conversation going on in his social media sites. He may never understand that he’s not interacting business to business but human to human on his social media pages. He doesn’t need to. It’s my job to be the human voice behind his business, talking to the human voices behind other CEO’s businesses.  His job is to build a product that upholds that conversation on the sales floor, in the board rooms, and at tradeshows.

What is is that your human voice will be talking about in the B2B world?