We often hear B2B startups ask why on earth they’d spend time on social media for a new B2B business when the business model is still being iterated and there’s not even a whisper of revenue. The truth is, B2B businesses that use social media find it can be very effective in exhibiting the prospect of a dynamic and state-of-the-art company. This is even more useful when you’re yet to be funded and other areas of the company might look well established.
Social media is like everything you dreamed you’d get from PR – only it’s not PR. It’s less expensive and most importantly, it works. Unlike B2C businesses, B2B business models can generate revenue quickly through partnerships, and gauging interest from prospective partners and new clients can be useful to mark the territory – and command an authority in the new space being carved out. Of course, we’re assuming it’s a new space – bestowing technological advantage on old conventional practices and so doing the same thing better.
Come out of stealth and announce to the world what you’re doing and what problems you’re solving. Don’t be afraid of the light.
B2B business areas are typically more mundane than those in a B2C consumer service, but look for friction in conventional business practices and there’ll be gold if you can do it better with technology. You can get feedback quickly relative to a consumer service because of a smaller specialist B2B market, so take advantage of this, come out of stealth and announce to the world what you’re doing and what problems you’re solving. Don’t be afraid of the light.
One of our clients who we’ve worked with for many years started off as a specialist Microsoft Cloud supplier using Microsoft Azure as a backbone relative to standalone servers. It’s fair to say that Microsoft was late coming to the table with their cloud services relative to the likes of Amazon, but the technology has since advanced into a rich plethora of comprehensive services and an associated ecosystem, offering everything from machine learning to running instances of Linux and other operating systems – all centrally and all truly scalably.
We occasionally talked about failures of competitors, although keeping everything positive is generally sensible.
Microsoft tend to evangelise their technology and their partners, and even have employees with Technology Evangelist job titles, and so we set out with that in mind on behalf of our client to influence Microsoft through social media. We engaged with key players who were active on Twitter at Microsoft in the Azure arena, we read up and learnt about cloud technologies and competitors, and we used Twitter to inform a now thriving audience about breaking news and new cloud features. We occasionally talked about failures of competitors, although keeping everything positive is generally sensible. While we’re writers, we also have technical and commercial expertise in-house. Our client was early in their business career when they came to us, and they’ve now seen various rounds of VC and have been awarded Microsoft Partner of the year for multiple, successive years. Commentators often say they’ve heard of them due to their thriving and active Twitter account.
We’re highly versatile in adopting new tones of voice and understanding new technologies and commercial goals for all manner of organisations (indeed, one of our senior writers has a patent in telecommunications.) One of our clients is an award-winning, large tech recruitment agency. The agency came to Thanksocial because they wanted to create a new movement that champions a work-life balance for employers and employees in London. The company is forward-thinking and progressive in their mission, and are so convincing that our own business has adopted their philosophy and practices which are aimed at increasing happiness and wellbeing in the workplace.
The creation of a B2B movement that influenced employers and stirred up employees was a new challenge to Thanksocial and we decided that the best solution was to create the campaign from the bottom up, iterating the design of the movement like a minimal viable product – initially gauging interest from followers on Twitter. The initial stage of the project involved generating a regular blog and amplifying this on social channels, although there was no revenue – or even any sign of revenue. Like a tech startup, the strategy was to resonate with leaders in human resources and with employees, and then figure out how to monetise. We blog on behalf of the client every week, and engage with employers and human resource authorities such as the CIPD. The movement is advancing to new levels of engagement that has encouraged the increase of blog creation and has in turn increased social amplification through Twitter – by increased targetting and honing in on a sweet spot. So far the ongoing campaign is working well, and we’ve borrowed from our tech startup experiences in the B2B world.
Social media is disrupting the PR space, and doing so very effectively.
Another B2B client is creating new technology that permits companies to bolt an intelligent engine into messaging technology. It can be used by telco companies and social networks to allow users to send everyday language messages to an automated ‘assistive agent’ that then performs commerce-like actions based on the users’ intent. These actions might be having pizza delivered in an hour, ordering a cab, booking a hotel, or checking flight information. They’re currently looking at IoT control using everyday natural language commands. It’s all extremely clever and makes use of Natural Language Processing and a comprehensive API for third party vendors to onboard. But while the client’s goal is to form relationships with larger organisations, such as Google, the technology isn’t complete and it certainly isn’t generating revenue. In fact, they’re not yet funded. By amplifying progress of the technology and speaking to other businesses and followers like an authority in the space, active social media behaviours help claim the space and position the company as a leader in readiness for launch and funding. Success breeds success, and talking about development achievements and new functionality might seem counterintuitive, but it’s all part of the plan – the company is already gauging interest from major players and may well be acquired even before launch. The press and the tech community are excited and social media has helped achieve this anticipation.
If you’re a C Level executive, you’ll know that you’ll be busy (very busy), so having weight taken off your plate is invaluable
We also look after social media accounts for CEOs and CTOs of companies at the pre-funding stages, often supplemented by tweets and postings directly from them. When we manage accounts such as these, we always stay in regular contact with the executives in order to understand and stay abreast of the business goals and recent advances. If you’re a C Level executive, you’ll know that you’ll be busy (very busy), so having this weight taken off your plate is invaluable. One of our clients wanted a series of LinkedIn Pulse blogs written for them for similar reasons – to present themselves as credible leaders and authorities in the space. We took the brief, wrote the blogs, went through a few iterations, and published onto their LinkedIn profile where the blogs remain persistent for immediate network consumption. Social media is disrupting the PR space, and doing so very effectively. PR agencies are being left behind with their expensive and often ineffective press releases, and being replaced by organic social amplification over networks of influencers.