Paul Gillin is a writer, speaker, veteran journalist, and online marketing consultant. His website is gillin.com, and he blogs at paulgillin.com.
While the rest of the business world hustles to develop outposts on Facebook and LinkedIn, a few savvy marketers are discovering that small is beautiful. That’s because there are several online communities that cater to specific audiences better than social behemoths ever could.
The membership in highly-focused professional communities like Spiceworks and FohBoh.com attract B2B companies, which know that success is more about quality than quantity. Professionals with problems to solve seek out others with answers, and niche social networks are often the shortest route to a solution. So if you’re wondering about other pluses, here are five reasons B2B professionals like going small.
1. No Waste
As good as LinkedIn groups are for getting questions answered, navigating many of them can involve picking your way through spam messages and marketing tactics. Most small professional communities are pretty good about controlling this kind of thing. Some, like Sermo (physicians) and PoliceOne (law enforcement), even require people to submit their professional credentials for validation before granting membership.
2. People Speak the Lingo
Professional communities are self selecting. As a result, newbies generally go elsewhere. Visit any of the social networks listed above and scan the discussions. People speak in a code that they understand, even if nobody else does.
A blog entry entitled “New technique ‘amps’ potential for gallium nitride electronics” may not excite many of us, but for several hundred Element14 members, it’s a must-read.
3. Your Stock Rises
Nearly all professional social networks use ranking systems that reward active members for their contributions to the community. The more active people are, the higher their social stock rises.
There are all kinds of benefits to this, including professional advancement, speaking opportunities, and simple bragging rights. People’s colleagues in the workplace may not always appreciate their expertise, but their peers do.
4. Peer Referrals
Many B2B professionals, particularly in technical disciplines, work in highly-specialized fields where new developments are hard to track and like-minded peers are difficult to find. Professional communities are the fastest way to seek out others just like them and tap into the information they’re sharing.
If your job depends on implementing VMware virtualization, you’ll find nearly 1,200 members of a VMware Spiceworks group who are in the same boat. Those members keep each other on top of the latest news and technical advice. Not to mention, an article recommended by a peer carries more weight than a Google search result.
5. Advice You Can Trust
When businesses have important buying decisions to make they seek advice from others who have gone down the same path. They’re more likely to find these early adopters in professional communities than on search engines or consumer-review sites. Vendor and product discussions are popular gathering places in most B2B forums. Do you know what they’re saying about you?
Marketing guru Seth Godin said it best in the title of his 2006 book, Small Is the New Big. Focus your sights on the people you really want to reach. Then go forth and engage.
source: Paul Gillin