Many B2B companies approach social media the same way they approach other parts of their business. With silos. No matter the size of the company, there are separations that reduce efficiency and cause confusion both within and outside the company. Even social media starts in a silo, usually in the marketing or pr department. And don’t even get me started on technology silos where company data lives in different systems depending on the function.
Here are some ways to use social media to break down the silos in your B2B company:
1. Align Sales with Social Media
The lack of alignment between sales and marketing continues to exist as more B2B companies use social media to generate leads and improve their prospecting. Short of doing an exchange program where you embed a marketer in your sales team and a sales person in your marketing team, this starts with communication. Make sure that each team understands the other’s challenges. Marketing is now responsible for more of the journey through the buying process than ever before. Prospects no longer come to sales to learn about the company and how they can help. That information, as well as recommendations, are all available on the social web. When marketing and sales work together to develop personas and social media content to address those personas’ issues, they both have skin in this game. If both are responsible for creating a process where marketing can generate leads that sales wants, this results in not just better leads, but sales.
2. Get Customer Service On Board
As B2B companies establish social media accounts on major platforms, usually by marketing to start pushing out company messaging, customers and prospects will start asking questions. These could be simple pre-sales questions that can be easily answered with a link to an FAQ document, or they could be customer service issues that need to be addressed by a customer service rep. What usually follows is a lengthy email exchange between the social media person and the customer service rep, resulting in a response back to the customer. If the customer service team were actively engaged online, this would tighten their connection with marketing, because they would need social media training, an understanding of what online documents are available and visibility into the content calendar so they would know what is being shared when. Major announcements drive awareness and cause an increase in customer service questions. The customer service can also contribute to creating social content based on their communication needs.
3. Get Product Team Blogging
The marketing or social media team usually own a blog at most B2B companies. This means that there will be certain kind of posts with a specific target and tone. One of the best ways to broaden the tone and scope of a company blog is to add writers from other parts of the organization. Look first towards the product team. This doesn’t mean they should write about your products, but about their view of the world. A product team that is creating solutions in response to customers, competitors and industry have a unique perspective that can add to your company’s thought leadership. Planning and executing their regular blog contributions tightens the connection between marketing and product teams that would not otherwise exist.
4. Launch an Internal Social Network
There are many options for an internal social network and the resistance to this approach is eroding. Yes, these programs are often called Facebook for the enterprise, but they are more about collaboration. One way to use an internal social network is to free information from email, hard drives and employees’ brains. Rather than share a customer presentation with your team by email, share it on your internal social network and tag it so others can benefit from your hard work. If you have told a compelling story, there is no need for others to re-invent the wheel. You can also ask questions of the company. I have seen examples where someone is in a meeting with a customer and has asked a question on the network, only to get a answer a few minutes later, while still talking about the topic.
5. Create a Social Media Council
A social media council can help any company that is planning to become more social. Gathering people from all functions across the company, including marketing, sales, customer service, HR, IT, legal, finance can get everyone on the same page about how social media can be integrated across the company. This is not about getting everyone to talk about what the company should tweet, but it is more about process. How comfortable is the legal team with your company’s planned social media presence? How does HR approach comments made on social media by current and prospective employees. What does it mean for sales and customer service now that anyone can easily contact the company on Twitter? Getting everyone in the same room can really serve to make sure they are aware of what’s going and that they are part of the process to move forward.
What are other ways you have used social media to break down the silos at your B2B company?
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