Wondering Out Loud

A social media question worth pondering

Earlier this week I met with a representative of an ad agency in Minneapolis. His work is primarily in the world of consumer packaged goods. We were discussing the agency’s exploration of social media and  whether it made business sense for them to go that direction. Why it would even be a question was a mystery until he commented that using SM tactics seemed a natural fit in the B2B space (where I’ve been for the better part of a decade), but not so in B2C.

In the past 12 months I’ve sat on panels dedicated to discussing the value of using social tactics in B2B and the starting point has always been that B2C is the natural.

Talk about your grass-is-always-greener moments.  

Having had the opportunity to give it more thought, I can see where new-found friend is coming from. The products he markets are ones you come across everyday at your local supermarket. If he can prove that a facebook fan will drive sales of butter he has a shot at getting the customer to take a look at it.

This is not to say I don’t think SM and B2C don’t mix. On the contrary, I think it they can live together quite nicely. However, in B2B the sales cycles are much different.

Unlike consumer products, most B2B sales are more complex and carry more risk – professional and personal – for the buyer. For this, and other reasons it is critical that the buyer believes the supplier is credible and trustworthy. Social media tactics are exceptionally well suited to do just that. But social tactics alone will not accomplish the goal. In fact, they are but one piece of a much larger marketing communications puzzle that one must build.

Don’t make the mistake of throwing traditional media out the window in favor of social media. Those who have are finding they regret the move and are scrambling to reassemble a media mix that will achieve their goals.

The new media mix – traditional + social – is an area that deserves deeper exploration and I plan to do exactly that in the coming weeks.


January 8, 2010 - Posted by | Communications, Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media | , ,


  1. Great post Mark. I’m beginning to see the “lightbulb come on” more and more for executives in the b2b space, as they understand that social media now plays the validation role that print advertising once did. Even less than a decade ago, if a b2b buyer saw your ad in print, he/she figured you must be a for-real company. Today, with so much user-generated and thought-leadership content available online, buyers look to social media for that validation.

    Social media is every bit as important, though in a very different way for b2c companies. One word: Zappos.

    Comment by webbiquity | January 9, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for the comment, Tom. There are more and more studies coming out that show B2B executives are insisting vendors – especially those who supply critial products and services – be involved in online activities such as blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. The trend is up and shows no sign of leveling.

      Comment by Mark Palony | January 11, 2010 | Reply

  2. […] + Social: The new media mix On January 8th I posted an entry, A social media question worth pondering, that touched on the subject of traditional media v. social media. Rather than pitting one against […]

    Pingback by Traditional + Social: The new media mix « Wondering Out Loud | January 15, 2010 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s