Robin and I had a conversation last week about some of my revelations on social media. My point was that social media has proven itself as a strong contributor to B2C marketing efforts. B2B companies, on the other hand, had yet to identify the process of getting into the social media game.
Robin did not a see a huge difference between the B2C and B2B ways of using social media to sell products or services. As a result, we've got to a point where we agree to the following general process of how B2B companies should be using social media. Here we present the LAR Model (Listen, Analyze, Respond):
Step 1: Listen
- Listening is the key component of any social interaction. People are talking about you, your competitors, your peers and your industry. You need to be aware of what's being said.
- Some popular tools to help aggregate your listening efforts: Google Alerts, Trackur.com, ScoutLabs.com, Radian6.com, Buzzding.com.
- When you decide to setup a Twitter account for your company, be slow to befriend people right away. Instead, try the following: 1) create an account, 2) listen to what people are saying on topics of interest by using search.twitter.com, 3) analyze what people are saying, and finally 4) start following ones of interest.
- Some topics to try listening to: Vanity (your brand, your URL, your name), industry (influencers, leaders, companies, governing bodies), competition (key terms you compete for, your competitor names, URLs, etc.). More on this topic at FastWonderBlog.com.
Step 2: Analyze
- Once you have gathered information on a subject, it's the time to look closer into the information you found.
- Consider what people are saying. Is there a trend in what they say about your company? Which events are people talking about? Are there certain people that appear to be "influencers"? What are the problems people experience with your product or service?
- Once you have all these data sorted and arranged in a convenient manner, answer the following questions: How can I solve the problem people are having? Who can I ask for help? Are there any influencers that I could talk to for assistance?
- Finally, you need to choose a champion. Someone (or a small group) who can take ownership of your interaction with social media. If you don't have the time or desire, a social media or PR agency can help you.
Step 3: Respond
- Now that you've come up with a way to address your audience's issues, you should start the conversation through your social media champion.
- Stick to your plan, but be flexible. Participate in conversations in a consistent manner to establish and maintain the quality of what you're saying, and avoid confusion.
- Always respond with the assumption that the entire world is listening in. Because they are.
At the end of our heated discussion I realized that we've actually moved pretty close to agreeing on things.