B2B & Social Media: Provide A Solution

You’ve probably heard at one point or another the question “does Social Media work for B2B?” Perhaps you’re even asking it yourself.

One of the main things that helped with me this is a post by Dan Blank called “Creating Interest vs Providing Solutions” from late last year. Dan says a number of pertinent things in this post, my favourite being:

If you can’t properly monetize 18 million unique visitors a month, how will another 5 million help clarify the way forward?

The point is that charging for interest is different to charging for a solution. Dan argues that many B2Bs, and publishers in particular, are thinking very narrowly about what their real asset is, and desperately trying to cling onto it, rather than actually start from the users point of view and explore what needs they really have around their interests:

Even in the cases where pay walls will work, it is not a complete solution, it is just one revenue stream. And in all likelihood, it is not one that will restore revenue and profits to the levels being lost by print.

Ads & Sponsorships are one model, but getting customers to pay you is another. If you rely solely on ads & sponsorships, how many page views is enough for your market? How many webinar sign-ups? How much growth can you garner year after year?

To differentiate your revenue streams, you may want to consider developing products that provide direct solutions. What service do you provide – could you provide- that people couldn’t live without?

Dan then linked to an exceptional presentation by David Cushman, called “a new era for specialist media.” Any regular here will find the ideas similar to our discussions on spreadability and people-to-people, but it is most certainly worth a look.

http://static.slidesharecdn.com/swf/ssplayer2.swf?doc=id=2509580&doc=sipakeynotedc-091116051033-phpapp02

All of this discussion makes me think again about the need for Social Media to be useful. And by useful I don’t mean useful for you, I mean useful for your users and/or community. We really need to understand them, with quantitive and qualitative research, and deliver what lifts restrictions for them – what enables them to do what they previously could not do.

For a really good case study on this, watch Yann Gourvennec’s Insight at Like Minds. His work as the Head of Digital and Internet at Orange Business Services is very, very inspiring.

Your Leading Thoughts

  • Are you a B2B player in Social Media? If so, are you providing a solution?
  • How do we begin to think ‘solution’, because I think at the moment we are very caught up with interest over solution.
  • How do you communicate solutions, without making everything a sales pitch?
  • krusi

    The main issue for B2B publishers is that they have lost exclusivity and kudos. In the ‘old days’ there was real credibility to being featured in a B2B publication, that just isn’t the case any more. Publications used to have authority, a voice and hence give credibility to those featured in them.

    The advent of online publishing, journalists publishing their own opinion on matters, companies being able to communicate directly through their websites and press wires fundamentally undermines what was a hodge-podge of services sold under the umbrella of a paper publication.

    So B2B publishers have to find alternative revenue streams, you’re right that many (if not most) of their previous ones are gone for good. It’s probably conservative to estimate that 90% of paper based B2B publications will have disappeared by the end of this decade. All the publishers we’re working with are very focused on what’s coming next.

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Markus

    You’re right – they have lost exclusivity for sure. The discussion on Monday about “The End f The Age Of Content” threw out some very, very useful comments from Andrew Davie about scarcity vs ubiquity: /the-end-of-the-age-of-cont...

    It’s good to hear that the publishers that you’re working with are forward thinking in this respect!

    Scott

 

4th August, 2010

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