B-to-B Takes Notice of Social Sites

Emerging B-to-C online marketing trends are heading toward B-to-B applications. Recently we saw a prime example of this. Facebook, which most B-to-B marketers view as a B-to-C phenomenon, made a bold move into building small business communities by providing advertising to small businesses on the site. After all, it argued, Facebook is where the business leaders of tomorrow are currently hanging out.

We all know, too, that credit card marketers have long solicited college students for credit cards, presumably in an attempt to build brand loyalty when these consumers are just starting out their financial lives. So it’s no surprise to see Visa Business as the pioneer. I suggest you closely watch the evolution of this program and others like it.

Take a look at the following: http://apps.facebook.com/visabusiness/sign_up . It’s the sign-up page for small businesses on Facebook. Essentially its pitch to you, the small business owner, is this: “Join our online social networking community and receive $100 worth of free targeted advertising on Facebook.”

Social networking is not new to the B-to-B market. There are many such networks developed for specific target audiences with similar interests. There also are lots of general business networks. Take www.linkedin.com, my personal favorite. I suggest that whatever target audience you sell to, there’s a social network out there serving that group, gaining more market relevance each day. What’s new here is that Facebook, one of the largest, here-to-date anti-business social networks, has just changed its tune.

I’d expect to see more of this. Every B-to-B marketer needs to experiment now with all the various products and social networking environments out there. My sense is that unless they have a renegade group of 20-something-year-old e-marketing people, most B-to-B marketers don’t even know half of what’s now available to them. I’ve actually heard people say, “Oh, that’s B-to-C. That doesn’t apply to my business.” Well, it may not yet — but it’s coming toward us faster than we think.

Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes@b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221 (direct line).

Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services B2B catalog company clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes @ b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221

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