Pull vs Push

Last week we had a good meeting with what I’d like to think is a potential client interested in social media.  They need to better understand how SM might be relevant to their business and, if so, how best to use it.

I imagine there are many companies large and small having similar discussions internally or with firms such as Porter Novelli. 

One point that stood out came from one of the people we met with who I’d say has a good understanding of SM and the expected challenges that could face his large US-headquartered firm.  He said that the push model used by his B2B company isn’t conducive to two-way, online conversations.  True, especially since SM, which embraces open dialogue and engagement, actively pulls people in.

 So how can this successful and well-known company use social media to connect with the resellers of its products? Listen. Learn. Engage.

At the very least it needs to do online monitoring and determine the location of the conversations, who to ignore and who to engage. 

It also needs to determine what, if any, aspects of SM can fit into its marketing mix.  This decision will need to address the tension between the old, less transparent way big business communicates and the new, more authentic way all businesses are expected to connect with stakeholders.

So as this company determines how to make sense of SM, perhaps it can test the waters via a calendar opportunity or event that can be used to start online conversations.  If customers are on Twitter, the company’s well-known subject matter experts could tweet about topics of importance to customers. 

By listening to the conversations and carefully finding the best way to test what works, this company can learn to engage its resellers and other stakeholders in new and compelling ways.

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