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Social Media in large B2B companies live and kicking – Business Development Institute event proved it!

September 19, 2009

Steve Etzler giving introductory comments during the event

Business Development Institute’s “B2B Social Communications – the Case Studies & Roundtables” event at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York is where I spent most of the day last Wednesday (9/16/09). I love events in the city since I can make a quick trip there and back in just one day. I attended as a guest of my colleague, Matt Broder, who was one of the speakers. Thanks Matt!

The BDI’s conference attendees included a mixture of corporate communication professionals from large B2B companies and PR and marketing agency folks. Not your average Social Media crowd for sure. The largest part of the conference included eleven 20-minute presentations describing how various brands (Intuit, IBM, American Express, SAP, Pitney Bowes, HubSpot and others) are utilizing Social Media to communicate with their customers and other stakeholders. Kudos to all of the presenters who were able to fit plenty of details and lots of impressive ROI in the 20 minutes assigned to them. While the presentations were great, there was little time for questions after each of them and the whole program felt a bit rushed. Did we need all eleven presentations? By eliminating one or two, organizers would have been able to gain extra time to account for presenters who went a bit over and the audience would have gained a short bio break in the middle instead of making everybody sit in a full auditorium for three plus hours straight. Ouch!

Gary Spangler during the round table discussion on Social Media governance

The last hour of the conference was filled by two rounds of roundtable discussions, 30 mins each. There were about 20 tables set up with 12 participants or so per table. Boy, time flies when you are having fun! I loved the interaction, I loved the loose structure of the conversation and I really appreciated the wisdom of the two roundtable leaders: Gary Spangler from DuPont and Matt DeLoca from the FeedRoom.

Gary shared with us his Social Media journey that began in a business unit when Gary, a mid-level manager was successfully incorporating Social Media into his marketing initiatives while the rest of the company was still struggling to understand the opportunities Social Media presented. Since then Gary moved to the Corporate Marketing department and proceeded to work on implementing the Social Media Charter Group, DuPont’s Social Media governance body that meets monthly to tackle Social Media issues including policy changes, Social Media monitoring, channel audits, etc. There were two pieces of advice Gary shared with the group that stuck in my mind

1) Understand that, in a business environment, fear of loss is stronger than promise of pleasure.

How does this translate to Social Media? The way I interpret it is to start with Social Media initiatives on a smaller scale to energize the rest of your organization. Don’t wait to have all the rules and regulations in place before exploring social media and don’t be afraid to play “catch-up” with guidelines and governance rules afterwards to ensure safe growth. Often because of fear companies elect to hide behind lack of Social Media policies and governance models (and take forever to develop them) hoping to slow down the pace of progress in that area . Don’t let that happen in your company. Great advice, Gary!

2) Make sure your Social Media Policy is the “enabling” kind

Gary explained that there are two kinds of Social Media policies: the one that emphasizes rules and regulations and is designed to discourage (aka scare) prospective participants from getting involved in Social Media on behalf of the company. You can find this type of policy in companies who have not explored Social Media at all and are hoping to stay that way.

The “enabling” policy is the one that does plenty of educating at the same time as it describes the do’s and don’ts of Social Media engagement . It is imperative for Social Media practitioners to be sitting at the table when the policy is being crafted to ensure a healthy balance between the educational content that encourages sustained and safe exploration of Social Media and the rules that protect both the employees and the brand.

I also wanted to recognize Matt DeLoca for leading a great discussion on the topic of “Socializing Web Video.” His strategy for success in that area can be summed up in four steps.

Step 1: Make sure that video can be easily incorporated within your website. Don’t create “video ghettos” where you store all your corporate videos in one place and hope that your visitors will find what they are looking without any context.

Step 2: Help socialize your video content which includes allowing for video rating and commenting functionality.

Step 3: Make it easy for others to “pull” your videos. This includes providing code to embed your video on third party websites and emailing a link to the video to a friend.

Step 4: Be proactive and put effort into promoting your video. The traditional “push” strategy is still relevant 🙂

Thanks Matt. These are great tips.

I also want to recognize the organizers for their forward thinking in placing a large screen with live Twitter feed right on the stage and communicating the #bdi hash tag to encourage the conversation beyond the conference auditorium. While some speakers mentioned being a bit nervous to present while others commented on their presentations on Twitter this created a very interesting dynamics in the room. Generally Twitter comments were positive and ignited attendee dialog that was largely absent from the event floor. (see all tweets from the event)

FYI, most of the presentations featured at the event are available for viewing on Slideshare

My next conference is MarketingProfs Digital Mixer in October where I am on a panel “Positioning Your Company to Reap the Benefits of Social Media. ”  Hope to see you there.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 21, 2009 6:12 pm

    Aneta, thanks for this great blog post summarizing the event. Nice to see the wrap-up in one place!

  2. September 22, 2009 2:08 pm

    Hi Aneta- thanks for the mention! The BDI events are always a terrific exchange of communications expertise… last week was no exception. Glad you found the roundtables valuable. For more info on my tips for socializing web video, check out our site at See you at the next event!

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