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10 (bitter) truths about the social web

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On January 27th I gave a lecture of the same name (video and lecture are included below) at komma 2011. Actually announced with the title “XING, Twitter & Co. Social Media Communication B2B”, I decided at short notice to address the topic somewhat to prepare differently. The reason for this was the accompanying lecture program, which came up with a whole host of social media recommendations such as "Use Facebook, Twitter & Co. efficiently". On the other hand, I wanted to have cleared up the promises of salvation made by many self-proclaimed social media experts a long time ago. The subject is simply too sensitive for that. Expectations are generally too high and the classic examples (e.g. Greenpeace, Nestlé) simply cannot be used in the B2B sector.

But read for yourself:

1. Truth: The social web doesn't even exist!

Oops, everyone is talking about facebook, youtube, friends and fans, and now the social web shouldn't even exist? No, it is a pure art term and describes (as differentiated from Web 0.5 or 1.0) the communicative expression of the »interaction« between user and website. Look for a plausible definition on wikipedia, you won't find anything. And also the explanation that it is something like collective intelligence is or the Wisdom of the crowd is constructed virtually. “The web is” - based on Tim Berners-Lee - “Interaction (better yet, communication) between people.” And B2B we have to look at the common spaces where business people hang out: curated networks (that's the point at which starts the video for sound reasons).

2. Truth: Social networks are overrated!

And in many ways. If we first take a look at the market ratings, the user profile on Facebook has an imaginary value of around EUR 61.25. The XING profile also costs EUR 20.00. Classic profiles there are "Waldi, the stupidest dog" and here "Marketing manager company yxz". But social networks are also overrated when it comes to loyalty and the quality of friendship. It was only last weekend that the Süddeutsche Zeitung failed, "Facebook is the Panini album of the young professional elite" and referred to the fleeting nature of virtual friendship.

3. Truth: Social networks have not only existed since facebook

Well, that's hardly surprising: friends, neighbors, clubs, interest groups, associations, precisely the curated networks that have one or even more common common ground. The language is - depending on the context - sometimes more objective, sometimes more amicable, but always personal, direct, authentic and credible. And of course that also applies to the virtual networks.

4. Truth: The same applies to social media: B2B is not just B2C

We can collect friends, fans, school friends that we can find again, students who are listed, contacts, profiles, even cuddles and localists on the web. The question, however, is where do we find the customers, the sustainable contacts, the multipliers or potential business partners? The classifications according to the ethority prism are not suitable for this. Curated Networks? Forums? Social networks? Everything out of focus. A recommendation: distinguish between special and general interest. Qualify and cluster your target groups according to strict criteria (and that doesn't just apply to the web).

5. Truth: B2B marketing via social media is communication

With Web 2.0, a new transparency has arisen. A new digital public. My esteemed colleague and friend Klaus Eck demands that we have to learn to endure this public sphere, to deal with it. Provisional injunctions are no longer effective. Trust has to be built (over long periods of time) and does not arise from brands alone. In addition, the classic gatekeepers and multipliers lose their relevance, while other, new ones emerge.

Companies should be aware that in the social media world [...] much that was previously invisible is brutal
can be moved into the field of vision. Our business relationships are becoming more and more transparent ... «
[Klaus Eck, PR blogger]

6. Truth: Your company has long been social. Whether they want to or not.

"No, we are not yet present on social media," said the managing director of a large medium-sized company to me. I cannot qualify this statement on Facebook, but during a desk research on XING I found out that over 70% of the employees are present there. And of course also present the company. The task of a company is now to promote this, to strive for a more uniform and adequate appearance of the employees, if necessary to create social media guidelines. That cannot be prevented. One recommendation is: Use the viral power of your employees to positively strengthen your presence in social media.

7. Truth: Your target groups have long been social. Just where?

Over 75% of Germans are online. Among the under 25-year-olds, the number is well over 90%. These are the employees, the decision-makers of tomorrow. But already today you can address your target group via social media in the social networks. Keep a close eye on what your competitors are doing. And think outside the box in your industry. Stepstone has brought some job markets of market-leading newspapers to collapse, chefkoch.de is the market leader in recipes and has long since taken market share from the leading cookbook publishers. Look ahead and to the side. Gladly also to the rear. Just don't stay there.

8. Truth: Social media B2B is not a sales tool

Marketing, sales via social media, that doesn't work. How so? It's like trying to set sales guidelines for your press department. But it is not just another channel for your public relations work. You have to use target group-specific content and languages. The copied press release does not end up in the trash, your account ends up there.

9. Truth: Social media B2B is a dialogue tool

Good social media communication increases the chance of dialog with your target groups and interaction with customers. In this way, you can get to know and aggregate the needs of your users. But above all, living your corporate culture and your self-image transparently. Appear more tangible, more personal, more indirect. You can work on your reputation. Social media communication helps to be perceived as an open company and to appear credible. Ideally, they'll talk about you, recommend your company.

10. Truth: Social media communication knows only one criterion

Yes, credibility, transparency, we hear that all the time. These are also important criteria for your social media activities. And B2C they are indispensable. But B2B has something else to do with: Relevance! And this in many dimensions: Your messages have to be relevant, your company can build relevance within the target groups (without having to be a brand leader). You can achieve a relevant position in the social media channels and thereby also achieve a relevant position on the search engine pages. You don't have to be enthusiastic right away, it just shouldn't be easy to get past you.

11. Truth: There is no such thing as the best case. Just one example from practice (bonus)

I announced 10 (sometimes bitter) truths. Brought an eleventh. Because despite all the (grandiose or academic) theses, an example (there is no such thing as THE example in communication) with concrete and deducible recommendations on how to proceed is simply useful.

All theses and the example can be found in the presentation document komma_2011-01-27_Woll (pdf, 3.83 MB). Have fun reading. Or while watching the lecture. My thanks at this point go to Jürgen Sterlike and his team from www.watch-and-record.de.

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08.02.2011 / 18:46
General, communities, event, marketing