Redefining Viral: B2B Social Marketing

Earlier this week I was lucky enough to be invited to an event organised by Dell & Microsoft to discuss whether social marketing is relevant for B2B. There were some fascinating presentations (available here & here) as well as some lively discussions: all focussed on the challenge of making social marketing relevant when talking to niche audiences, often made up of high-level execs who, the argument goes, ‘don’t do Twitter & Facebook”.

During the course of the day I was reminded of a discussion I had in a previous role with the marketing team of a major B2B company who, so they told us, wanted to ‘do a viral’. When we pressed them they said that they wanted to create funny videos which would amass millions of views. Considering the fact that their products cost millions of dollars I always felt that getting the man on the street to chuckle at a video might not be the best use of their marketing budget, and I still feel the same.

However, if we challenge the conventional definition of viral in modern marketing (something, usually a video, that is seen by loads of people) then actually we can start to see how a B2B company might use such techniques.

First, what do we mean by viral? At it’s most basic level it refers to something that is passed from one person to another. However there is nothing that says it has to be passed along by millions of people. If your target audience is made up of a few hundred decision makers worldwide, then if a piece of content is passed from a CFO to a CTO, you’ve done your job.

And who says that piece of content has to be a video? In today’s Guardian there is a post about a piece of infographics developed by Japanese agency Information Architects, showing the 140 most influential users of Twitter in a format that resembles maps of how the universe was created.

By packaging data in an interesting and attractive way, they’ve managed to make a PDF go viral within the tech sphere. And in a similar manner, Socialnomics have managed to make what is, essentially a Powerpoint/Keynote presentation, a YouTube smash.

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Both of these should challenge what we think of as viral marketing. And, coupled with a different view of what going viral actually means, we can start to see how social marketing can be just as relevant for B2B audiences as it is for B2C. And that’s an idea that truly deserves to go viral.

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3 comments

  1. Tyrone Tellis

    Hi,

    I AGREE THAT VIRAL IS JUST MORE THAN VIDEOS, THE MOST PERTINENT EXAMPLE OF VIRALS ARE IDEAS AND IN A MORE OFFLINE EXAMPLE FASHION TRENDS.

    i THINK THERE’S A BIG OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE CONTENT IN ANY FORM GO VIRAL WITH THE FUTURE NEEDING TO BE MORE ABOUT ACTIVE VIRALS RATHER THAN PASS ALONG PASSIVE ONES.

    tYRONE

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