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B2B Social Media: Know the Risks

ready for social mediaMany businesses understand the reach and importance of social media channels in engaging customers. Direct consumer interaction presents several businesses opportunities; to improve products, it provides a mechanism to promote offers, and it promises unmatched during-sales and after-sales customer support. These one-on-one social interactions allow business to reach customers at a new level with an unmatched ability to Touch The Customer (TTC), understand their needs, likes and dislikes (Kluter, 2007). This personal communication with consumers can allow a business to quickly understand and adapt products and services to meet customer preferences and accelerate growth.

One could argue that social media is not pertinent to all business models. It is fairly easy to understand how customer feedback could influence a restaurant menu, the color preference for running shoes or the usefulness of a new feature added to your wireless printer. There are definite advantages to engaging the customer in a B2C context. However, what is the role of social media in B2B transactions and how does one measure that value?

It is my opinion that the value of social media for B2B is quite limited. The audience is targeted, there are work place restrictions on accessing social networks, there are increased privacy and security issues regarding both personal and proprietary information and the cost of implementation is somewhat higher. In addition, B2B social engagements increase risks for the company. One could argue that communications with the customer – at any level – provides an opportunity to grow the business. Business to business social networks can influence decision makers, channel partners, vendors, suppliers, and distributors. Social media, campaigns and contests can be used to increase brand awareness, improve sales and generate new opportunities for growth even in B2B organizations.

What is the price of social media in the business-to-business context? True social media is unedited. Do you have the necessary policies and procedures in place to control employee participation? What if an employee gives the wrong advice to a customer – is the business prepared to take liability for the outcome?

Social media empowers consumers with a communications platform. It has become the engine that drives innovation and provides a critical advantage to organizations that try to understand it and harness the power of consumer voice. A company that listens to customers is better positioned for success. But, social media in a B2B context may present risks greater than the returned value.


Kluter, H. (2007, June). Hyundai uses “touch the market” to create clarity in product concepts. Visions Magazine, June, 1-8.

Posted in Branding, MROI, Security, Social Networks.

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