13+3+1 Lessons
about Social Media
Marketing in B2B
from Top Experts

by Massimo Burgio, March 2010

Last week the cutting edge online magazine and knowledge sharing community Mashable published an interesting article on Social Media Marketing for B2B, asking 13 top experts what was the biggest lesson they learned in B2B social media marketing.

The 13 answers, all enlightening, make a perfect list that all B2B marketers should review before deciding to engage on social media marketing (and they are a good list also for the B2C marketers, too!). I shortened some of the longest ones from the original version published on Mashable, and added a final recap of the learnings at the end of the article.

But it’s not all – the lesson learned are 13+3+1 because I republish here also three very interesting contributions to the online conversation by members of the Mashable community, and I added my own lesson learned too! Let’s review these insights and experiences in social media marketing for B2B.

jason-fall B2B is more P2P – people to people. Make your business more human. (Jason Falls, Social Media Explorer)

chris-broganContent is the best B2B social media lesson. (Chris Brogan, New Marketing Labs)

seth-godinSocial media isn’t about you, it’s about them. (Seth Godin,

gsi-logo-oldiesThis section of the site used to be active as a blog, but we stopped blogging at the beginning of 2013. This article is a couple of years old, but we think that its insight still provides value, so we included it in our new site as an “online marketing resource”. A sort of oldies but goldies.

We apologize if some references are not very updated. We “remastered” the blog posts to fit the new GSI site design, and included some updates when republished the content, but we also decided to leave the blog posts mainly untouched, as they represent a sort of “family photo album” for us.

Thank you for reading our blog, and for following GSI. We hope you like this article, feel free to share it.


John-JatschFind ways to fuse social media tools with offline engagement. (John Jantsch, Duct Tape Marketing)

anita-campbellIn the B2B world especially, it’s crucial to step back and look at your business and who your target customer is. Choosing the right social media networks is crucial. (Anita Campbell, Small Business Trends)

rohit-bhargavaIn B2B people buy expertise. In a world like B2B marketing where reputation and credibility go a long way to helping seal deals, social media is nearly becoming a necessity. (Rohit Bhargava, Influential Online Marketing)

valeria-maltoniLearn to be human again. (Valeria Maltoni, Conversation Agent)

david-armanoB2B professionals often only look within their niche and sometimes fail to borrow from the consumer world. B2B is a niche for sure, but at the end of the day, people are people. (David Armano, Logic+Emotion)

JFayeCarterB2B companies can leverage the improvements in company-client interactions brought by social media, including user experience, real-time client service discussions, and integrate social media with existing business practices to create new product or service offerings. (Jessica Faye Carter, Technicultr)

todd-defrenHave a goal. Put the right people in place. Move beyond broadcasting. Create and distribute a set of Social Media Guidelines to employees. (Todd Defren, PR Squared)

brian-solisSocial media begins with not only listening, but research and analysis. Go to where people are interacting now. (Brian Solis, Future Works)

Mitch-JoelSocial Media is probably easier to link to true ROI in the B2B space than it is for B2C. (Mitch Joel, Twist Image)

tara-huntIt’s less about the tools and more about the attitude emerging from the social web. (Tara Hunt, HorsePigCow)

Excellent insight on B2B social media marketing and social media strategies from thirteen among the top experts in the field!

But, wait! Why the blog post said 13+3+1? Because I like to hear from the audience, too – like I do when I am speaking or moderating conferences – in this case, I reviewed the comments left by users to the article published on Mashable, and I have found more valuable insight to share with you. The comments I liked the most come from a 20-years old graduate and a couple of unidentified users with arcane nicknames.

Let’s see what are the 3 additional lessons learned in B2B social media marketing.

Matt-CharletonA lot of people treat social media more as an art than a science, leading to inevitable pitfalls. It’s key to temper the organic development of such a campaign in conventional marketing practices, with hard data and analyses. (Matt Charleton,

timLExpertise is key. Businesses looking to form a relationship/agreement with other businesses need to engage with competent firms. The B2B introduction process in much longer than for B2X transactions. It can be hard to tap into the market, so find niche markets and go after these full force. (timL)

mp4uMost B2B’s are looking for ROI. Showing them value and ROI in SM brings it to their attention. Showing them pointers to get there happens AFTER you show them “Value”. Most B2B’s are still in the traditional means of ROI which creates a harder platform to attain when working in their landscape trying to show them SM ROI. (mp4u)

mp4u also added as comment to the article an excellent recap of the 13 social media marketing lessons from the B2B experts, that I will surely use as bullet points in one of my next presentations on social media topics, obviously also adding the other 3+1 B2B insights.

13 Social Media Marketing Lessons for B2B recap

1. Trusted friend
2. Interesting content
3. Targeting audience
4. Community strategies
5. Expertise
6. About them
7. Offline engagement
8. Being human
9. Customized engagement
10. Tangible goals
11. Follow the interactive crowd
12. B2B do use social media
13. Putting customer needs first

+ 3 additional Social Media Marketing Lessons for B2B

14. Hard data and analyses
15. Longer introduction process
16. ROI in social media is an hard sell


+ 1 personal lesson on Social Media Marketing for B2B

17. In-house is better

Massimo-BurgioMy personal contribution to the discussion on Mashable (also reported as comment to the post) is that B2B marketers should build their own social media team internally, maybe with the initial support of a social media marketing agency for social media set-up, kick-off and resource training.

In my opinion and B2B experience, even if I run an agency so this goes against my business interests, I have to admit that in-house is almost always better than outsourced. Let me also explain why – from an agency standpoint, it takes always a big learning curve to absorb the culture, the style and the technical jargon of B2B businesses, specially those in the industrial sector. B2B companies are hard to manage when you have to represent them in open conversations on social networks, and it is needed – more than it happens on B2B campaigns – to tap into the client’s knowledge very often.

A good advice to B2B marketers is to allocate and train at least one internal resource (two is better), so to be able to manage directly the most strategic / delicate channels, and to be the point of contact and knowledge hub for the agencies supporting the social media marketing efforts. In-house is definitely better than outsourced – and this is more and more requested also by our B2B and B2C clients, for which we provide more and more training and support to make them able to engage successfully on social media networks with their own internal teams.

tamar-weinbergBefore closing this post, let me say thank you to Tamar Weinberg at Mashable for putting this great article together and moderating its comment thread, to the B2B expert for their 13 precious advices, and to the Mashable community for providing us with additional 3 b2B social media marketing insights!

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