From B2B / B2C to P2P

Businesses have had to change their model in order to adapt to the influence of social media / networking. Transactions are no longer limited to 1 of 2 ways i.e. B2B & B2C.
History has illustrated that  business was conducted in the following fashion :

Transactional : Businesses produced a product or service and the customer bought it. End of transaction.

Gatekeeping : Business clenches on to its old powers. It believes it still owns all the connections between customers and partners.
Hierarchical : Top-down communication structure. News from the top is passed down through the ranks of the organization.
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Businesses had the advantage of “high walls ” between themselves and their end consumers and their fellow counterparts. But the web has become such a bank of knowledge which everyone can access, that there is no benefit in hiding, but there is more benefit in proclaiming the services on offer.

Furthermore through the advent of social media businesses have been exposed to outside scrutiny and some businesses did not anticipate this. Only those businesses that have adapted to change have taken advantage of the market through the easily accessible networks and communities of social media.

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Business Adaptations for Social Networking

1. Transactional to Interactional : It sees itself on an equal footing with their customers.

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For an organization with a less than favorable rep*, both on social media and sentimentally , despite its critical role in South Africa. Eskom has broken down its high walls of beurachracy and they have embraced their consumers by interacting with them so that they gather insights and disseminate correct info v/s rumours spread about their  ” incompetence ” as an organization.

2. From Hierarchy to Network : Communication flows are bi-directional with consumers and cross-departmental. See this link for which social media network to use depending on campaigns http://blog.socialcast.com/e2sday-a-hierarchy-of-communication/

3. From Gatekeeper to Platform provider : understands that today’s technology enables anyone to connect with anyone, whether the business likes it or not. The gates are open. A social business knows if it simply keeps managing connections.

According to Jeffrey L. Cohen : While many large B2B companies and brands do have their fans, why would someone become a fan of company they don’t love? The reasons are no different than connecting on other forms of social media. These are building relationship with the company, getting value from the content, customer service, and yes, opportunities for special offers. So below are 10 examples of B2B companies using Facebook Fan Pages in a variety of ways.

Read more: http://socialmediab2b.com/2009/12/10-examples-of-b2b-facebook-fan-pages/#ixzz2SV8bvrMS

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 4From B2B / B2C to P2P : people want to connect with people and not with businesses  – NB!!!

For me this is epitomized in how Michael Jordaan has personified the FNB brand.

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Jordaan has become a voice for the organization and it has worked favorably. Even though he is not consciously saying “I speak for FNB ” but the impression  created is that the bank now has a middle between itself and its consumers. Hence the organization is more relatable to its consumers especially those who strongly believe in social media networks as a “source” of information.

Main advantage of P2P communication :

# Credibility – this is caused by how consumers can take charge of  in engaging with any business by asking questions and/or posting feedback (favorable or non-favorable). Furthermore when there is positive sentiment and consumers share this about the organization this is regarded as earned media.

Based on the above it can said that companies/organizations/brands that shape their communication to speak credibly to its consumers will  be the ones who reap the rewards.

Watch the space for a post about B2B communications on Social Networks.

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