IBM Using Social Media in B2B

I enjoyed reading the article for it highlighted the general approach that I have been advocating TELLUS clients take since early 2009. On our website we discuss our methodology of Map, Monitor and Mediate. The act of mediation is more commonly known as ‘Conversation Marketing’ or un-marketing. In explaining what I mean by Map, Monitor and Mediate I use the analogy of going to an in person networking event.

You push open the door and you see groups of people chatting spread around the room. You glance our the group to see if there is anyone you know. Not spotting anyone, you walk around the room once and listen into the different ongoing discussions. You spot a discussion you are interested in and you walk closer. You listen for a few minutes before introducing yourself and joining in the conversation. If you connect with members of the group business cards are exchanged and you might even invite someone to continue the discussion offline.

Social engagement is exactly the same thing, but digital and on a global scale. You ‘map’ the community that you are looking to join. You look for influencers and ongoing discussions (forums, blogs, groups, etc.). You turn on a monitoring solution with filters for the discussions you are interested in and you join offering your opinion or insight. If you offer value then the audience might want to connect with you and maybe even start ‘following’ you on Twitter or in a Facebook group.

Most companies I work with find educating their staff to engage openly a daunting task and they elect to task a person in the marketing team with setting up a branded group or a Twitter following. Now going back the analogy, this would be the same as going to a networking event and setting yourself up an empty table. You put up a small stand with you company logo and stack of business cards. Then you stand, smile and hope for people to stop by and engage in conversation. Now if you are well known this approach might work, but most of us are not Fortune 500 brands.

What I especially like in IBM’s approach is that even though they are a Fortune 500 brand and could get people to come to them, they are still being proactive and reaching out to people where ever they might be having a conversation. The tone that you set is very important. Are you saying that I am interested in what you are saying and would like to join the dialogue or I am here if you want to hear my awesome monologue?

Having a branded group site or a following is great. It is a richer branded environment where you can invite people after they have been converted by means of ‘un-marketing’.

Getting back to the IBM approach, what I missed in the article was the Mapping phase. Mapping helps to identify the influencers and multipliers within a community. 78% of people online make decisions based on peer recommendations. Having an established influencers echo your messaging is worth 10 more than when the vendor says it.

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