B2B Social Networks: Driving Commerce with Imperfection and Surrender
Eric Schwartzman: Tuesday, February 2, 2010 | 11:16 AM
Considering launching a B2B social networking site for your organization?
You've come to the right place.
In this podcast, Mark Yolton, Sr. V.P. of SAP Community Network tells you almost everything you need to know about what it takes to launch a successful B2B social network.
The SAP Community Network -- a B2B social networking initiative nearly 2,000,000 members strong and growing at a monthly pace of 30,000 new members spanning 200 countries and territories worldwide -- has been recognized by the Altimeter Group and SiteIQ as one of the most successful business-to-business social networking sites in the world.
Yoltan reveals SAP's winning B2B online social networking formula that has resulted in 6000 posts per day, 1 million unique visitors per month and 200,000 contributions by celebrating imperfection, profiting from surrender, improving product performance through user ratings and building deeper professional relationships through personal interactions.
This interview will be incorporated in a book I am writing with Paul Gillin on business-to-business social media engagement. If you are aware of other instances or case studies involving the successful use of social media for business-to-business online communications, please leave a comment here. We are interested in interviewing others with experience deploying social media communications channels for measurable business gain. Paul blogged a draft outline of our book, to be published by Wiley later this year, under the working title Social Marketing and the Business Customer
I'm particularly excited about this interview, and want to extend my thanks to Shel Israel for helping to arrange it. This podcast also marks a new chapter in the show's format. We have a new main title, a new closing title and a new sponsor. Looking forward to your feedback on these tweaks.
01:42 -- Using a social network to deliver value to different stakeholder groups including customers, partners, the sponsoring company and individuals.
03:54 -- Building brand loyalty through social networks and more compelling business benefits of sponsoring a social network.
04:20 -- Why customer-to-customer communications is a significant benefit of social networks for business-to-business applications and the key to stimulating peer-to-peer activity.
06:34 -- How to determine what type of information is appropriate for sharing within a B2B social network without compromising the sponsoring company's competitive edge.
08:42 -- Why a corporate social media policy tailored to the sophistication of the employee base is a critical component of effective business-to-business social networking. SAP has published their Forum Rules of Engagement
and Blog/Community Guidelines
11:21 -- Using a wiki to include employees in the development of a corporate social media policy.
12:24 -- The strategic criteria by which SAP decided between establishing a branded B2B social networking community versus a public B2B social networking community. Note: While SAP used their own software, branded communities can also be built using tools such as Ning, while public communities are commonly hosted on Web 2.0 sites like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.
15:35 -- Deepening business relationships through Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and B2B social networks as adjunct to a core, branded, B2B social networking site.
16:25 -- The advantages of branded communities over Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn and which companies are not candidates for managing their own branded, B2B social networking community.
19:04 -- The types of roles or job functions within the organization and generations predisposed to participating in a social networking B2B environment.
21:10 -- How to decide which sections of a B2B social networking site should be public, and which areas should be private.
24:33 -- Conducting edge work through mentors, who are nominated by the community and do not work for SAP. The use of exclusive access and private areas to seed information within the community through influential community members.
28:38 -- How active contributors benefit from participating in the SAP B2B social networking site through lead generation and reputation management.
30:28 -- The business benefits of relinquishing control of the conversation to your customers and exactly what it takes to drive active discussion amongst customers, resellers, partners, and other channel sales participants in a social networking B2B environment.
32:06 -- The intangible benefits of online social networking to B2B online social networking community members.
36:33 -- The use of friends or contacts in an online social network to filter important, relevant information through recommendations.
37:58 -- Staffing requirements for managing, weeding and farming B2B social networking sites.
40:29 -- Using star ratings and user reviews inside B2B social networking site to promote sales and improve product performance.
41:25 -- The specific skills that make for on exceptional B2B social networking community manager.
44:41 -- The relationship between a B2B social networking site community manager's willingness to reveal at least some aspects of their personal lives with their business colleagues, their effectiveness at shepherding conversations within a social networking B2B environment and why imperfections and human flaws are essential to driving conversations.
45:39 -- The use of Facebook, Twitter and object-oriented social networking sites to deepen personal relationships, which are sustained primarily in a branded, B2B social networking environment.
47:06 -- The relationship between user ratings and product sales within a B2B social networking site, why perfect ratings are not usually good for sales and how low ratings can be used to improve product performance.
50:03 -- Integrating proprietary and open source software to power a B2B social network initiative and dealing with potential tension between open-source platforms and licensed proprietary software.
55:39 -- End
ABOUT THE PODCASTER
provides online communication training, strategy and governance to public relations, public affairs, corporate communications and marketing specialists. He has extensive experience integrating emerging information technologies into organizational communications programs through public speaking, hands-on training seminars, consulting and the development of corporate policies on social media usage. His clients have included Boeing, BYU, City National Bank, Environmental Defense Fund, Government of Singapore, Johnson & Johnson, Southern California Edison, Toyota, UCLA, US Dept. of State, United States Army, US Embassy of Athens, the United States Marine Corps and many small to medium-sized companies and agencies. Schwartzman is currently co-authoring a book on business-to-business social media communications with Paul Gillin, to be published by Wiley in Fall 2010. He is the instructor behind PRSA’s top-rated social media and emerging treads training seminars, the New Media and Social Media PR Boot Camp
and the New Media and Social Media PR Master Class
, which are offered monthly in the US through PRSA. Since 2005, he has been producing the weekly, award-winning public relations podcast “On the Record…Online” (@ontherecord
) about how technology is changing the way organizations communicate, the official podcast of the PRSA International Conference for the past three consecutive years.
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