B2B Social Media: the Digital Trade Show?

Post by Ray 5 years ago - Social Business - 3 Comments

Fishing off wharf Caissie Cape NB

In spite of the fact that social media is the top tactic used by B2B marketers (87%), only half of the respondents in a recent Content Marketing Institute (CMI) survey expressed confidence in social media.

Are you surprised?

This post is a follow up to one I did recently: Are You To “Business to Business” for Social Media?

I had laid out examples and arguments of why social media works for B2B companies. ex. social media can actually benefit B2B companies more than B2C companies because longer sales cycles can reduce the touch points needed to close a sale.

But the resistance is strong. Reason:additional work and expense. 

Expense vs. investment came up as a recurrent theme at our Board of Director’s Meetings at the theatre company I referenced in my last post.

Travelling to Performing Arts Trade shows such as APAP was expensive, especially for a small theatre company that relied heavily on grants and donations.

But we were fortunate to have directors and granting agencies with vision who understood the difference between an expense and an investment.

The process for preparing, executing and following up for trade shows is very similar to how we develop leads through social networking.


1 – Laying the groundwork. Months in advance, we’d research our target market and reach out to prospective buyers to get a sense of who they were.

  I’d begin by finding something in common with the prospective clients move on to how we could help them achieve their goals. Then arrange to catch up at the trade show.

2. – On the Floor – This was the “fishing” part; set the bait with an attractive display booth, stock it with slick brochures and posters (& giveaways  of course) then wait for people to stop by.

When they did, we’d hook them with a great pitch. Like most fishing trips, more time was spent chatting with  friends and peers than landing clients. This bait and hook strategy has unfortunately been carried over to the social media world.  

3. Off the Floor – This is where the real work happens. Breakfast meetings, keynote talks, showcases, hallways – this is where connections convert to clients. Through eye contact, body language, handshakes and small talk, a trust-building relationships are establishing the foundation of a working relationship.

4. Follow up – Once back at the office, I’d  input all the contacts in our contact manager (before smartphones), do follow up calls and continue to build upon the relationship.

Often, our conversations were about banal things like weather, sports, and recipes; things humans talk about.

These are the types of conversations that people poo poo social media about, yet they are the most important because the decision to purchase (or not) is made by a human. A real live person.

So it’s no surprise that the number one trusted tactic by B2B’s is in-person events.
Same strategy and results, less travel costs.

Check out more survey results on this SlideShare:

What do you think is the biggest challenge B2B’s have with social media?

About Ray Hiltz

Thanks for dropping by. I'm the Director of Digital Marketing for Image-24.com. My background in business includes non-profit (performing arts), restaurants and Promotions. Having moved on from my own strategic consulting company, I now write about what interests me. So in this blog, you may read about my thoughts on marketing, health issues and business culture. You can follow me on Twitter @rayhiltz or @image24Call

3 Responses to “B2B Social Media: the Digital Trade Show?”

  1. davidaalexander

    Hi Ray, Great Post. I was very surprised to see that 80% of B2B marketers use twitter!

    • davidaalexander Thanks, David.
      That did raise one one of my eyebrows as well :-). I’d be interested to see how much content is actually tweeted “in house”.


Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>