Every day there are more articles showcasing the value of social media for business. However, 80% of those articles reflect the value for companies marketing to and communicating with consumers. The challenge, for companies selling products or services to other companies, is how social media can help them. After all, when most people are on Facebook, they are there to communicate with their friends and family. Sure, they may be job hunting, and Facebook has proven to be a good place for employers to recruit new employees. It is also a good place for companies to connect with users regarding customer support issues. However, Facebookt is still first and foremost a destination for the individual thinking about personal, rather than business, topics.
A recent article on The Next Web highlighting the high proportion of U.S. based LinkedIn members, with membership growing internationally. What was more interesting is how companies are taking advantage of LinkedIn, particularly those in high tech. One of the dominant metrics, for measuring success in social media , is tracking the number of followers. For a company in the B2B space, it is most important for followers to be individuals who can influence purchasing decisions. LinkedIn is the most relevant social network for attracting influential followers. Who's are the companies leading the pack?
1. IBM, ~590,000 followers
2. HP, ~449,000 followers
3. Microsoft, ~424,000 followers
4. Accenture, ~419,000 followers
5. Google, ~409,000 followers
6. Oracle, ~293,000 followers
7. Deloitte, ~283,000 followers
8. Apple, ~253,000 followers
9. Dell, ~244,000 followers
10. Cisco, ~240,000 followers
It's not a surprise to me that tech companies lead the pack. Tech company employees tend to adopt new tools more rapidly than individuals in other markets. IBM, in particular, has invested heavily in "socializing" its entire approach to business. This is partly to promote their own business intelligence capabilities, but also to simplify how employees get and stay connected internally or externally.
These companies use LinkedIn's company pages to promote the company and their product lines. The benefit of promoting products and services on LinkedIn, allows the company to highlight new products, customer case studies and increase attention to key product lines. Another benefit is the ability for users to provide recommendations for company products. Hewlett-Packard, in particular, has gained a significant number of recommendations across all of its businesses. In addition, they sponsor several groups targeting different customer segments.
Social media is changing the way we connect with customers. LinkedIn provides an additional channel for communicating value and differentiation, as well as listening to what customers are saying. Look into leveraging LinkedIn for more than your personal profile, there are benefits for large and small businesses. Check it out!
What's your perspective?