The fact that many business-to-business (B2B) relationships are characterized by long-term norms of trust and commitment should not be news to either academics or practitioners. The value of establishing loyal partnerships between buyers and sellers to ensure consistent delivery of customer satisfaction has become increasingly evident. Such partnerships typically involve multiple people in each company having multiple relationships with people in the other company. Over time, such social processes make a specific buyer-seller relationship difficult to break as the the organizational boundaries begin to blur. Over time, many staff in boundary-spanning jobs experience a role conflict in that they almost forget which company they work for or at least which company’s goals they hold, or should hold, closest to their hearts, at the same time as this is for the good of the whole partnership.
Even if most would agree with the above statement, now with the emergence of a plethora of often free social media and networking technologies that are getting easier and easier to use by the day at the same time as they become more and more powerful, some still question the potential value of social media in a B2B context. This is puzzling. Yes, there may be too many platforms to choose from. Yes, there could be situations where social media may not be applicable. But still. What could be wrong with having more tools as your disposal to further strengthen and develop existing relationships between buyers and sellers?
In a B2B context, you often hear naysayers say things like: “I don’t need social media to manage my customer relationships, I only have a handful of customers to manage and if I have a problem, I just pick up the phone.” Still, wouldn’t it be helpful to also know what is going on in the lives of your customers when you don’t have a problem? Perhaps they have a problem, a problem they may even voice on social media, and you are nowhere near to pick up the signal. That sounds like a problem to me. Or, what do you think?