B2C and B2B: Different Approaches Socially

As many businesses already know, social media and social networking are now major forces in marketing and many large and small companies are now using it effectively. Some of our recent posts on this subject include where to apply your efforts and we’ve also taken a look at why small businesses should take advantage of social networking.

Now an interesting article by Chris Yeh over on 1to1 Media asks why there is little emphasis so far on online communities specific to for customers. If you haven’t yet heard of B2B or indeed B2C then I’ll explain briefly. B2B stands for Business to Business and its role concerns itself with businesses and their suppliers and distributors online. A B2B website therefore deals mainly with other businesses.

You may not be surprised to hear then that B2C stands for Business to Customer with it’s main role being the link between businesses and their customers, ie. supplying to the end user. You can find out much more about this over on A-K Strategic Business Solutions. Back to the article by Chris Yeh now, who notes that although there is a large emphasis on B2C social commerce, with many companies and retailers communicating via Twitter and Facebook with customers, there has been surprisingly little change in the B2B realm.

These two aspects of business are widely different and need to be handled in different ways. The Altimeter Group suggests that business should be looking at other things such as brand mentions and interactions and responding appropriately. For instance if somebody mentions your products or business then you could communicate. Much of the B2B community though, has so far not felt the need to interact with other businesses online through social networking.

Another snag is that the B2B aspect of business is also more involved than B2C with a chain of people involved such as buyers, suppliers etc. which means a lengthier process not necessarily suited to Facebook or Twitter. Yeh suggests then that the best idea would be to have a “collaborative environment’ for businesses, a shared environment with social elements. It’s a convincing argument so hit the 1to1 Media link above to find out more.

What are your thoughts on online communities specifically for B2B? We’d be interested to hear from you about this so please do send in your comments.

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    I share some of my thoughts in a white paper called "Trickle-Up Socialnomics: Leveraging Social Media in the BtoB Context." It describes how BtoB firms can view their supply chain as a Social Media Chain and use it to develop new business opportunities. It can be accessed via this link: http://tiny.cc/TUSpaper.


    Courtney Hunt
    Founder, Social Media in Organizations (SMinOrgs) Community