How To Sell Social Media to B2B Executives

If you are reading this blog post, you either work for a B2B company, want to work for a B2B company, or have B2B companies as clients or prospects. No matter your business, whether you sell products or services, you or someone in your company thinks social media can make a difference in your company’s success. But unless that person holds a title like VP of Marketing, the chances are good that someone will need to be convinced that social media should be added to the communication mix.

There are plenty of posts about convincing your boss to try social media, or finding your customers online, or even just listening to the industry chatter as a way to get started. Well, what do you do if you have tried all these tactics to no avail. What about taking some of the principles of social media engagement and call them something different? These are not new ideas, but the development of the social web has made it much easier to engage with a larger number of customers and prospects. When combined with the inbound marketing benefits of search, this broadens the capabilities of these techniques.

The corporate world is filled with buzzwords, jargon and doublespeak, especially in meetings and reports. Here’s your chance to innovate with your communication strategy right under the noses of those who are resistant to change. The good news is that when your boss comes to you in six months and asks you to put together a committee to begin exploring social media, it will be very easy because you had already done your research and implemented it. And this can only work if you are inside a company and have some degree of authority, however, you can use this idea even if you are pitching communications programs to clients. Stay away from terms that make them nervous.

The following is a list of some common social media terms and their corporate-friendly substitute terms.

social media = contemporary web strategy
social media newsroom = interactive information center
social networking = online forum
social bookmarking = shared favorites
blogging = regularly updated website
microblogging = active listening
Twitter = next phase of online engagement
LinkedIn = LinkedIn

If you have thought of taking this strategy, please let us know in the comments below. Also let us know if you have invented any choice euphemisms for social media terms.


  1. says

    Nice list. Here are two that have worked for me:

    Listening/social media monitoring = competitive research, product development ideas, real-time insights

    Blog = space to show off your expertise and what you care about

  2. says

    I like this idea a lot – some other possible examples:
    * social networking = market research and customer service
    * social bookmarking = customized news and information

  3. says

    We are just beginning to explore the possibilities of using internet marketing strategy to improve our brand recognition and our sales. Our business has been traditionally done by using sales people calling directly on customers. I am interested in anyone else who is in a service industry who is successfully doing social media networking.

  4. says

    Jeff, this is so basic it’s brilliant! It addresses the issue of using a buyers language, not your own. Buzz words degrade the value of anything being discussed as they typically mean different things to different people. By taking it down to a common element, it will make all the difference and help people really understand based on common understanding. From there viable comparisons can be made that relate to the “buyer”.
    Wonderful post!

  5. Jeff Cohen says

    Jason and Derek: Thanks for the additions to this list.

    Steve A: There are many examples of a variety of businesses, including service businesses using social media, listed here. You can sort the list by industry and find similar businesses. Also note that this is the first list of 500 examples and there are two more lists linked at the top.

    Steve D: Thanks for the comments. That was the exact point of this post. I wanted to put out a simple idea to begin discussion and get people thinking about social media in a different way.

  6. german guy says

    concerning this: “If you are reading this blog post, you either work for a B2B company, want to work for a B2B company, or have B2B companies as clients or prospects.”

    ….or you are an intern and it is your job to look how to use B2B-social media for the company XD

  7. says

    very interesting….

    in our daily work with CEOs, most effective translation is:

    social media = conversations with customers = more sales


    no social media = not listening to customers = lost sales, lost customers

    much of the other stuff listed is tactical noise to people running organizations.

  8. Jeffrey L. Cohen says

    Thanks for the comment. Agree with the clarification. It is best to keep it at a high level for CEOs.

  9. says

    Brilliant strategy, Jeff. I just came across this post while searching for some social media 101 handouts for execs. (SEO FTW!)

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