If we needed a case to help prove that social media works in a business-to-business (B2B) environment, we should look to what Cisco was able to achieve when they launched a new router product entirely through social media. During a product launch like this, the company aimed specifically at the B2B market, ahead of any subsequent launch into the channel or direct consumer environment. In this case, Cisco was aiming at a specific market – engineers – and wanted them to adopt their products using their new definition of a what a router is.
By focusing on using a social media platform the company was able to make some solid comparisons with previous traditional projects to come up with some remarkable statistics. For example, they were able to reach more than 80,000 people during this launch (well over 90 times more than in previous launches) and since it was a virtual launch concept, an enormous amount of time, money, and resources were saved – to say nothing of those carbon emissions – when people from over 120 countries participated virtually.
Up until then, executives within Cisco were less than convinced about the power of social media in general, let alone what it offered their corporation. However, the success of this particular router launch project elevated social media as a communication tool that offered tangible business benefits and measurable ROI. When you consider that this launch cost only one sixth of previous launches which focused on traditional methods, it’s easy to see why the executives were ‘over the moon.’
Social Media Examiner reports a number of enlightening findings from Cisco project. One of the main takeaways here was that social media didn’t replace conventional selling and marketing processes but that the it helped to shorten the sales cycle. When a customer is fully engaged with a company’s brand*, they are willing to spend more time and money with that company than those who are not.
Here are just a few of the tactics that Cisco used when it launched its new router product:
- A three-dimensional game, encouraging interaction from network engineers, understanding that a significant proportion of these individuals tend to interact with online games anyway,
- A hard-hitting YouTube video,
- Video conferencing, enabling one-on-one interaction virtually,
- A mobile application,
- A Facebook page with more than 80,000 people engaged,
- A social media widget,
- A variety of different blogs that were focused at particular job roles and departments,
- A dedicated online forum.
So successful was the overall launch in this particular case that the chairman and chief executive officer of the company now routinely engages via Twitter, interacting and answering questions as they come in. Twitter and Facebook have enabled the company to be far more engaged with the B2B community, as well as its other customers and the media on a real-time basis.
One of the biggest takeaways is that any company should always be aware of what tools (free or paid-for) are available to enhance their brand. Upon further investigation, you may find that some are not appropriate for your business, but it’s sensible to be aware of what’s out there so you have the choice to use it or lose it. Cisco have proven that their adoption of certain social platforms and the way they have chosen to incorporate them into their communication plan has offered them substantial gains.
Perhaps it’s time to take another look at what’s out there and see what you can use to enhance your brand?
*remember, brand is not just about marketing.
Martha Christie is a Marketing Evangelist within Purple Cow Ideas Management – an organisation that helps technology organisations redesign their business models to help them build better relationships with their customers. You can follow us on Twitter and join the conversation on Facebook.