Making “friends” is no different in the B2B world

Here is a question that has been asked and answered over and over again: How do we leverage social media for B2B marketing?
I have been discussing with peers this very subject around marketing to technology professionals. The initial strategy presented was to simply find some heavy hitters in the IT space on Twitter, via blog searches, LinkedIn groups, and start listening, learning, and then engaging. I don’t know about you, but the last time I checked, there are thousands of “IT influencers” all over the web, so where do we even begin to start?  Do we look at the number of followers?  Blog retweets? Blog volume? The task became quite daunting very quickly.
Time to get back to the core of what we are trying to accomplish.  What is the objective, and what are the goals for using social media for B2B marketing?  It all points back to each of our individual initiatives.
  1. Prioritize:  Don’t think too broad, hone in on a specific initiative or subject.
  2. Focus: Narrow the scope to each initiative’s core message or topic.
  3. Search: Do some preliminary web searches and social media searches for each topic area to find the key discussion areas, bloggers / influencers, etc.
  4. Segment: Focus on no more than 5-10 influencers per topic, and do not automatically default to the major influencers like analysts. Instead, focus on bloggers that work for companies in your target market segment, or run their own segment related blog.
  5. Listen: Start compiling discussion topics, comments, etc. to learn what the hot buttons are, where your value prop fits, where you could add real value to the conversation.
  6. Engage: Begin posting comments on related blogs and in social media to establish a relationship and with the influencers you have identified and fellow readers and commenters.
  7. Contribute: Build upon those relationships by providing information and content that informs, educates, even entertains.
  8. Share: Leverage influencers content into our own online articles, blog posts, tweets, etc. and link back to them as the source.
  9. Schedule:  Carve our an hour or two of your day to dedicate to listening, engaging, contributing, and sharing.
  10. Measure: Track using analytics, refine where needed, and stick to it

Keep in mind, this takes time, patience, and dedication.  It may take months to establish a trusting relationship with influencers, because it’s not about traditional marketing. It’s about making new “friends” that trust and respect what you have to say and isn’t that what being “friends” is all about?