This Spotlight on Social Media for Business-to-Business Companies series is brought to you by LinkedIn, where marketers can reach the world’s largest audience of professionals as they network, collaborate and share valuable business insights and information.
The following Q-and-A is with Kodak Online Marketing Manager Brian Nizinsky, who handles Kodak’s business-to-business social media marketing efforts.
Do you feel like the name recognition that Kodak has as a business-to-consumer brand helps or hurts its business-to-business efforts?
I think both. In the B2C space, what the brand is associated with – the digital camera, the printer, film – in a lot senses may not help in the B2B space. People think of Kodak in the realm of ‘Oh my father had a film camera’ or whatever, but … in the consideration phase, when people are doing initial research or gathering vendors together or manufactures together for potential purchases in the B2B space, the Kodak name may not come up.
So how do you use social media to address that?
Right now what we’re doing with Kodak’s B2B social media is … a combination of engagement, customer support, showing thought leadership –putting proof behind our claims. When we say we want to be associated with thought leadership in the various printing industries, our social media efforts put that in writing, if you will, in black and white.
How is Kodak’s B2B social media strategy different from its B2C efforts? Were they conceived at the same time?
The B2B social came out after the B2C social initiatives. The B2C initiatives started in 2006 and there was way more critical mass on the consumer side – openness to blogging and so forth. And then … once we saw that more B2B business were getting involved in blogging and Twitter and on YouTube, that’s when we started to say, ‘OK, now our audience is there. Now we need to be there too.‘
Image Credit: almagami, via iStock Photo
Did you learn anything from those early B2C efforts that you could then apply to the B2B space? What doesn’t cross-apply?
What applied — and still does — is that we need to have an authentic Kodak voice. On the B2C side, the blogging effort, which was the start of social media, [posts are] always written by employees, never ghost written – real people with real titles using Kodak products and talking about them. So on the B2B side, when we started blogging … it was the same thing, except less from a personal side, more from a subject-matter expertise side. People in the organization who live, breathe, wake up, go to sleep thinking about the packaging printing industry, as an example. They’re not in marketing per say. We don’t care. They could be in project management, R&D — we don’t care what department they’re in. If they have that type of passion and knowledge, those are the types of people we tap into to create the kind of content and add the value into a social media conversation.
How do you keep customer engagement alive, given the length of the sales funnel?
That’s a challenge. … I would take the opposite view of how that would fail. The failure of a lot of other companies is to start and not have the plan to maintain. Cause it’s real easy to start. Everyone goes crazy and says ‘let’s start a Twitter account,’ ‘let’s start on Facebook, ‘let’s start a LinkedIn something or other,’ ‘let’s start a blog.’ But there’s not maintain, no long-term [thought] on what’s this thing going to look like in 6,8,12, 18 months. The way we’re handling that challenge is to talk always about maintenance. We never talk about the beginning. The beginning is easy. It’s fun and everyone’s excited and everyone’s involved. Six months in – are people still writing? What are they writing about? What’s the traffic? Are we using this in conjunction with other efforts? … To keep people engaged over that long sales cycle, Kodak is there. That’s basically the tenet. And we’re always going to be there. We’re not abandoning this. It’s not something we’re doing because it’s cool and shiny. We’re doing this because we care.
Are you using social channels to target influencers? Or are you just reacting to anyone who talks to you? How do you decide who to engage?
The easiest way to answer that is via Twitter. Twitter has so many – or at least a good number – of metrics behind it to determine some level of influence. Amazingly, it’s actually easier to figure out in the offline world, in a sense, to figure out who an influencer is, based on traditional methods. Like a prominent writer in a trade journal is an influencer, because their words are read every week or month or whatever. But online, it’s starts blurring.
When it comes to Twitter, we do a little bit of both. Of course, whenever anyone mentions our product or has an issues, we address it … but then it comes to certain Twitter accounts that we can tell are pretty influential, based on a Klout score or a number of retweets or their level of engagement. And those accounts, we just keep an eye on and if there’s ever a conversation we need to be involved … we get involved. Just keeping it friendly, trying to give them a heads up about different initiatives now and then. It’s pretty low key. It’s not a hard sell because no one likes to be sold to. We try to keep it pretty conversational.
How are you targeting and engaging potential customers?
We hope to produce enough good content that everyone comes to us. It’s so easy online to give people that creepy, salesy, pitchy feeling. We try to be really careful of that. The goal is to say, ‘what are the issues, what are the business problems that we are trying to solve for people?’ … We’re going to focus in on those, we’re going to talk about those and hopefully the people that come are the people we can help with those issues.
Does the length of sales funnel affect how you think about return on investment?
I don’t know if I would say it’s harder. We have to be more patient. And we have to differentiate. On the B2C side, we sell stuff online. You can make an impulse buy … based on, maybe, a social media initiative and you’re tagging the urls and everyone’s cookies … and you kind of have a closed loop where you can say, ‘this initiative had these results.’
On the B2B side, we try as best we can to initiate programs where we can track people with a cookie, in a normal way like everyone else does and say ‘what does this person do?’ And it’s all anonymous until they become a lead, at which point they’ve opted in. As this matures and as more and more companies get used to engaging a company like a Kodak in this way, there will be more opportunities to attribute sales to this medium.