Text 100 & IBM at SMWF 2012: Social Media & B2B Comms


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Social Media and B2B Comms

Lance Concannon, UK Social Media Lead , Text 100
Joe Hanley, External Relations Director, IBM EMEA


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  • Discuss IBM & Text 100 relationship, set scene for why were are presenting together.
  • There are lots of exciting things happening in social media. Channels like Twitter, Facebook and blogs have become firmly entrenched in people’s lives, and we’re seeing a constant stream of innovative new ideas, with platforms like Pinterest, Quora and Google Plus getting a lot of attention over the past couple of years. There are lots of great opportunities to reinvent business models and change the way we do things for the better. And that’s particularly true for communications professionals…
  • Everywhere we look we see brands doing amazing, creative things and engaging with their audiences in completely new ways. We’ve seen a blender manufacturer become a global phenomenon with a low cost viral video, Old Spice managed to completely reinvent a stale brand image, hundreds of other businesses are using social media to surprise and delight consumers….
  • But we’re the boring men in grey suits of the marketing world. There’s no point in us doing sexy consumer campaigns because we sell products and services to other boring men in grey suits. Most people have little idea what we do, but nevertheless we work for some of the world’s most valuable brands and just like everybody else, our world is changing because of social media.
  • The opportunity – business decision makers are consistently more engaged in social media and online activity than average internet users (60% use social media) so there’s clearly an opportunity to engage and influence them through these channels. While senior decision makers are ahead of the norm, there’s even greater takeup of social media amongst their junior colleagues – that makes sense, since we know that younger people tend to be more likely to use this stuff, but it’s also a good indicator of what we can expect in future. (Hat Tip to GWI)Why has this happened? What changed?
  • This is how information traditionally flows around an organisation:Hierarchical flow within the businessExternal comms are strictly controlled through the comms function, via the media (a relationship that can be managed) through to the external stakeholders/audiences
  • But this is how social media has changed that flow of information. Within the organisation the communications hierarchy has been disrupted – it’s easier for people at all levels within a business to communicate with each other.External communications have also been disrupted – information flows in and out of the organisation with little control. If you think you can control it, you’re lying to yourself. Everybody from the interns to the CEO could be using social media channels to discuss their work and the brand
  • Net result: we’ve got a lot of scared B2B comms people – they know the world is changing but it’s hard for them to understand what they should do about it. We’re bombarded with facts and stats about social media, and in it seems like there’s a whole industry which has developed around publishing and republishing endless pieces of insight around social media – so it’s extremely difficult for businesses to make sense of it all and plan a coherent strategy for social media.
  • So, understandably, a lot of people in B2B continue to do business as usual, either putting their head in the sand and ignoring social media entirely or simply treating it as another channel to broadcast their messaging across. We’ve all seen Twitter accounts which are only ever used to publish links to press releases, or B2B brands inexplicably using Facebook to share dry corporate updates on a fanpage with just a handful of fans. The rationale often seems to be “If I just take the stuff I’m already doing and push it out on these new channels, then I’ve done social media, so I can tick that box and get on with my life”. But this is obviously a wasted opportunity, and in fact it’s counter productive because it consumes resources while adding no value and can even damage the brand’s reputation if it’s done particularly badly. Farm it out without making internal change
  • Reaching a consumer audiences through social media easy because of volume, even relatively niche audiences are likely to have communities and channels that you can reach them through. It’s very different when you’re trying to reach, for example, CIOs of insurance companies – those guys don’t hang around on Facebook fanpages or follow Katie Price on Twitter.
  • IBM Case study
  • IBM is a vast and complex organisation with many different business units and new acquisitions regularly being brought into the company. With over 400k employees (not to mention partners) you have to accept the social media is going to happen in some shape or form, whether you want it to or not. Even when you’re only looking at the people who’s job it is to communicate the brand’s messages, there are lots of different attitudes and approaches to social media, and somehow IBM needs to find a strategy that works.
  • Talk about the challenges for the IBM comms team here:Fragmented across different parts of the business – lots of different approachesSome have gone off under their own steam and started using social media without any real strategy –( this has created lots of semi-official profiles on SM channels)Inertia – some don’t want to use SM and are resistant to change because they’ve been doing things a certain way for a long time
  • IBM has some well thought out guidelines for how employees can use social media, and the company positively encourages staff to use these channels to talk about their work at IBM, so long as they stay within these sensible guidelines. The company also has a number of internal social champions (Ben Martin, etc) who are charged with supporting those who want to get more involved. But the comms team are a special case – for the them it’s absolutely essential that they embrace social media in their day to day work and that they get it right, so we need much more than a set of guidelines…
  • Talk about the optimised for sharing approach here, along with the Social Media Checklist document designed to encourage teams to think about
  • (LC to talk through the Sales Eminence training) - Looking beyond the comms team, IBM understands that its own consultants are uniquely positioned to tell the world about the company’s products, services and expertise. Over the course of 2011 over a hundred of IBM UK’s top consultants went through a two-day training programme to learn how to use social media channels to build a personal profile within their specific industries. More importantly, we spent a lot of time working with them to build a message around their field of expertise and to understand who their audiences are, where to find them in social media and best practice for engaging with them.
  • Text 100 & IBM at SMWF 2012: Social Media & B2B Comms

    1. 1. Social Media & B2B Comms
    2. 2. Joseph Hanley Lance ConcannonExternal Relations Director Digital Lead IBM Europe Text 100 UK
    3. 3. • Watson• Brazil infrastructure thingy
    4. 4. Help!I’m scared!
    5. 5. B2B Challenges• Niche audiences• Less forgiving environment• ROI question• Brand management
    6. 6. Most useful research channels Press releases Company websites Official company blogs Wikipedia Independent third party blogs Official company Twitter profileIndependent third party Twitter profiles YouTube LinkedIn Official company Facebook pageIndependent Facebook pages or groups Google+ 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80
    7. 7. Preferred contact channels
    8. 8. Bonus statistic
    9. 9. IBM Case Study
    10. 10. IBM• World’s second biggest brand*• 100 years young• 400,000+ employees• $107 billion revenue 2011 *Interbrand 2011
    11. 11. IBM & Social Media• Home to global• Publish to provision• Permission to policy
    12. 12. Strategy Thoughts• Brand• Skills• Integrate• Eminence• Analytics
    13. 13. Optimise content for sharing• Created a social media “Bible” for the comms team to help them ensure all content the produce is
    14. 14. Sales EminenceHelping IBM’s consultants reach their audience
    15. 15. • Joe Hanley - @adare• Lance Concannon - @concannon