B2B. Business to business.
In the world of social media and relationship marketing, the B2B aspect seems to scare a lot of people. In all honesty when I first began working on B2B strategy for my company a year ago, I didn't know what to do honestly. The transparency and openess is easy to grasp with using social media to engage with general consumers and is definitely a bigger comfort zone than marketing to businesses.
If you really think about it though, B2B really isn't THAT much different than B2C social media. There's one key thing that many marketers forget:
Businesses are people too.
Your business and the business you are prospecting aren't large robotic machines that randomly spat out products and services. Or at least I would hope not. Businesses are made up of people. Real human beings with lives, thoughts, feelings and emotions that make the day-to-day decisions for that company. The purchasing decisions of a company are processed through a live person who interacts with other humans every day.
So how do you market to businesses with social media?
Don't build a relationship with the business. Build ones with the PEOPLE in those businesses. It's the same as a dinner meeting or a trade show. It's all about networking. You go out to a dinner with several other business people after a trade show and business hardly ever touches the conversation. However, a relationship has been established. One that has potential to turn into a business one later on down the road.
Social media is the same concept. You are building a relationship with others in the digital space. These relationships will carry over to a real face-to-face interaction sometimes and - if you strategize and align your social media efforts correctly - will result in more business. Mashable recently posted an article titled "13 Essential Social Media Lessons for B2B Marketers from the Masters." The main conclusion that covered all those lessons: Humanize your campaign. Don't look at it as B2B but P2P (person to person), as Jason Falls says in the article. The other key note is that you make your conversation about them, not yourself (from Seth Godin). There's nothing more annoying than a Twitter account that just talks about their organization and doesn't interact and converse with others about what's going on outside their bubble.
A strategy not built upon the "personal" or "human interaction" foundation will fail. No matter how many Twitter followers or Facebook fans you have.