“If you’re not Helping, they’re not Listening” – B2B Social Media ideas from Paul Gillin

(This posting is also available at http://www.bma-nj.org)

Paul Gillin entertained the November Business Marketing Association of NJ (BMA) meeting with his views on the use of social media for B2B companies. Among the many take-aways, one comment summed up his general theme – “If you’re not helping, they’re not listening”.

Paul, the author of “Social Marketing to the Business Customer”, kicked off the evening with some statistics to highlight the ubiquity of social media – the average length of a Facebook session is 51 minutes; 152 million blogs exist on the internet; and 48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.

Following the theme of his earlier book, “The New Influencers“, Paul suggested that the Influence pyramid has been inverted. A few years ago, there were only 50,000 key influencers in the US ( the top newspaper editors), whereas now they can come from any background, via the web.

In a lighthearted example of the power of influencers, the BMA attendees were treated to the story of Universal’s launch of the Harry Potter theme park. Instead of a traditional mass PR campaign, they chose to hold a private event for the seven most influential online Harry Potter fans. Within 48 hours, Universal claims that 250 million people knew of the launch through peer networks.

Paul started a lively debate when he talked about the impact of TripAdvisor on the hotel industry, as he cited the example of a hotel in Martha’s Vineyard which was able to cut their marketing budget by 60% after achieving a #1 ranking on the site.

In addition to case studies from Dell (using Facebook to turn complainers into fans), and UPS (cutting recruitment costs using social media channels to find applicants), Paul made the point that Social Business is primarily about Thought Leadership and “the Big Idea”, not necessarily direct ROI.

Finally, when considering your Social Media strategy, Paul urged BMA members to ask the question “Do you have a plumbing strategy? A hammer strategy? A copier strategy?”. Instead, realize that social media is a set of tools, and the key is to use the right tools for the job at hand. To underline his point, he suggested that, if you are in a niche business with a small, well-defined customer base, “…your best Social Media tool is the Golf Course!”

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