As a regular user of social media, mainly Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, I, like many others, have observed the increasing number of sponsored adverts and company pages working their way into my daily newsfeed. Sellers of financial services through to power supply vendors wish to engage me as a customer.
Naively, I had hoped to neatly partition my social media engagement to prevent this sort of intrusion. Attempts to segregate work contacts from my personal life by using LinkedIn for work and FaceBook for friends and family have not worked; everything is blurring. People that I regularly work with have become friends on FaceBook and social contacts have connected with me via LinkedIn. Can I change this? Should I worry? What is going on here?
Blurring of B2B and B2C
Working in B2B electronics PR and content marketing , I understand that marketing communications could always be targeted at the right audience. At the highest level we learn to differentiate marketing campaigns according to the audience we wish to target, namely B2B or B2C. In most cases this definition is more about the type of product or service you are selling. Clearly, most consumers like you and me would not normally buy an HGV truck, but that is not to say B2C is straightforward either.
While the convenient labels of B2B and B2C have worked for many years, the emphasis on an individual’s role in the B2B buying decision has been growing. Many years ago, when I worked in sales, you learnt to look not only at the overall company requirement for your product but at the individual buying it. In most traditional B2B sales for non-commodity products there would be more people involved, so you had to know and consider the needs of each member of the decision making unit (DMU). Indeed some structured sales methodologies put a strong emphasis on how each individual within the buying organisation can influence the purchase decision. For the sales person, finding out each individual’s opinions of your product and company can be extremely difficult.
But it isn’t just B2B that can be difficult to judge; B2C buying cycles can be equally complex. Firstly, there is usually more than one person making the decision to buy, say, a new television. And that means potentially two or more differing viewpoints regarding what’s on the check-list. Personal opinions on brand, quality and features can be based on an individual’s core beliefs and emotions.