Big B2B Companies: Losing the race to the Challenger Brands?

by Lincoln Smith
January 24, 2013

The reputation of companies has long been derived from the marketing of the company, not it’s employees. Not anymore. The image of the employees is increasingly important, with social media profiles of staff reflecting heavily on the organisation they work for. There may be no “I” in team, but there is a “me”!

Large B2B companies have traditionally been ‘walled gardens’. They had few spokespeople, and built huge success keeping their IP inside the walls, only releasing a summarised version to the world. They held almost total control, and often used PR firms to help shape and control their messages.

Now everyone can be a spokesperson, and the walls of the garden are hollow breeze blocks! But here is the problem:- Companies are comfortable writing about themselves and promoting what they do. But most B2B companies lack two essential skills for the Social Media age:

1. Professional Individual Profiles

It is simply the biggest ‘fault line’ between old and new marketing: the change in importance from what the company says and does to what its employees say and do. Every manager and professional has the potential to positively impact the brand. New age marketing is about the individual as much as it is about the company itself, and too many companies are wasting this opportunity. A related issue arises when employees are online but with incomplete or unprofessional profiles – this negatively impacts the company’s reputation. It is not sufficient to be merely present on social media platforms, it has to be professional.It is interesting how far personal profiles lag below the professionalism and engagement levels of the company profiles. This is particularly a problem with LinkedIn, the giant network that is all about business relationships and engagement.

In fact, for the best 30 Australian companies in our study, only one rating was not dragged down by the personal LinkedIn profiles of employees. In the majority of cases their ranking dropped significantly.As a proportion of a company’s overall BizClout rating, LinkedIn personal profiles were rated at 20% of their total rating. However, the impact for a company that understands and embraces the power of having hundreds of professionally presented and consistent profiles is way beyond that. It’s like having hundreds of new mini-websites.

In their industry, a company with hundreds of profiles would appear like Goliath and their competitors would be barely visible to those searching.

2. Valuable Content

Content that engages with prospects and other stakeholders, that starts relationships with hundreds, even thousands, is valuable and essential on Social Media. Most big companies have never needed to write such educational and informative material and are not allocating the resources to do it. Most are persisting with ‘brochure copy’ that is all about them. In today’s world, we, the buyers, usually discover what we need when we need it, we don’t need to be sent your brochures either online or in the mail.

Companies that address the related issues of empowering their employees and generating good informative content will dominate the increasingly powerful business networks such as the giant LinkedIn with over 200,000,000 members.

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One thought on “Big B2B Companies: Losing the race to the Challenger Brands?

  1. Lisa :

    Couldn’t agree more with this post. Sales people take note……..social media and online profiles make a big difference. If your company produces great content….pdf’s, product guides etc get them up on your profile.

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About the author Lincoln Smith


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