Social Media and the Supply Chain

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As I was looking through my normal round of websites this morning, an article caught my attention on mycustomer.com. The article was called “B2B Firms Reaping Supply Chain Benefits from Social Media” by Natalie Brandweiner. This article discusses how B2B firms need to leverage social media to support their supply chain.

Being a B2B marketing professional supporting a sourcing/supply chain consultancy, I have found leveraging social media to be an interesting process. I have done my research, taken classes, gone to seminars, etc., but there does not seem to be a straight forward plan on how to best leverage Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc. And with new tools launching every day (Pinterest) it appears that the journey is just beginning and the path to social media success will be different for each company.

To see how social media is working for B2B, I jumped over to the blog Social Media B2B and checked out their blog post titled “Only 13% of B2B Marketers Drive Leads with Social Media by Jeffrey Cohen. The post states that in a survey conducted by BtoB Magazine only 13% of respondents reported that social media was their greatest driver of leads. It seems that we all are still trying to figure it out.

The numbers stated by BtoB Magazine seem to be supported by Brandwiener’s article. The article states that in a survey conducted with 150 B2B customers, half of the respondents were unaware of how their supply chain providers use social media or thought they were not using social media at all. However, one third felt that they would perceive their supply chain vendors more positively if they used social media to engage with them. Forty percent of the respondents use social media regularly. Six out of 10 say social media sites are a valuable way of interacting with supply chain vendors (Facebook 57%, LinkedIn 30%, and Twitter 15%).

It looks like there is an opportunity here for supply chain vendors to better leverage social media and enhance customer experience and engage others. The article quotes Janet King from IDG Research Services as saying “The research shows that while the use of social media channels to interact with customers is still developing, vendors who leverage these channels can have a fairly significant impact on customer perceptions.

“Opportunity exists to engage with customers not only on mainstream services like Facebook and Twitter but through private communities, vendor wikis and blogs. Engaging with customers through these channels helps vendors to not only inform the buying decision but join the conversation.”

It appears that we are missing an opportunity to engage with our community on a deeper level. This is an exciting time not just for marketing but for supply chain as we navigate this new world of building relationships through social media. How are you making it work for you? Do you use social media? How do you use it?

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Crystal Jones is the Director of Marketing at The Mpower Group (TMG). She has over 12 years of marketing experience specializing in B2B marketing for consulting companies. Crystal is actively involved in many organizations, including the Business Marketing Association (BMA). She also has her Master's Degree in Marketing from Johns Hopkins University.
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