Social Media, Sitecore and B2B Commerce

In my last blog post I discussed about role of Sitecore in B2B Commerce and how big of an opportunity their to use Sitecore to increase the business revenue. In this blog I will discuss why B2B Commerce needs Sitecore for content generation and distributing the content via different channels to increase the business prospect.

I would like to start with a particular experience I had working with one of our B2B Commerce clients. This was beginning of a project and we were talking about requirements. In the Product Detail mock up there were some social media buttons for Facebook, Twitter etc. Our client thought none of their users will be posting the product link in the their Facebook or Twitter pages. I thought same way too. For example, if I am a Customer Representative and I buy products for customers, why would I post product link in my social media pages? I don’t think I would. But, that incident got me thinking about the role of social media for the B2B Commerce.

Before we discuss, how social media can be used in B2B Commerce, let’s discuss about the difference between a B2B Commerce and B2C Commercce user. In B2C Commerce the user is the customer and buys products for personal use. For B2C commerce user, posting the product link on user’s own social media page makes sense because user owns the product and probably would like to share the purchase with user’s followers. On the other hand in B2B, user often is not the customer. For B2B user the lead time for a purchase is often longer than B2C user. B2B user usually tend to do more research by reading blogs, articles that posted by either the manufacturer or by some independent bloggers. They need to do more research because most cases the B2B products are complex and some time it is configured product. What is important for the B2B Commerce site is, to make these research materials easily available for the users through social media channels and forums. This is where Sitecore can help with content generation and pushing contents using Experience Platform.

Before we talk about how or what Sitecore can do, let’s look at this interesting statistics below about a survey conducted on 2013 to understand how B2B decision makers are using social media.

Forrester-B2B-Decision-Maker-Use-Social-Media-July2013

You can find more about this chart in this article. Although, the chart is two years old the situation has not changed a lot. It is clear that B2B business can do a lot to distribute content about their product via social media.

Blogging using Sitecore WeBlog module

The B2B businesses needs to provide information about their products through blogs, articles either in the eCommerce site itself or via links to independent bloggers. Sitecore Marketplace has a great blogging module called WeBlog and it is free. You can find this module here. With the help of WeBlog, the blogging or Product articles can be added with minimum effort. WeBlog comes with many features like tagging, RSS feed generation, commenting, spam filtering, CAPTCHA etc. What is sweet though, it comes with Social sharing ShareThis or AddThis, and other Facebook and Twitter widgets. By having Sitecore and WeBlog module, the B2B business can easily generate blog contents and distribute those through different media channels.

Sitecore Media Framework

I am a serious hobbyist photographer. When I look for a new photo gear and I need to research about it, I sometime prefer to watch videos about the gear, instead of reading long articles. It is a great idea to add videos in the B2B site to easily communicate the product information to the user. In this regard Sitecore Media Framework can be a great help. Sitecore Media Framework integrates with Brightcove and Ooyala professional video streaming service. The B2B site built on Sitecore can take advantage of these media connectors two manage the videos. Some time back, I wrote a Media Connector for integrating Sitecore with Youtube. This module is available in Sitecore Marketplace. I wrote some blog posts too. You can find more here Sitecore Youtube Connector.

Sitecore Experience Platform

Finally, Sitecore Experience Platform can be a great use for selecting appropriate blogs/articles/videos for the B2B user. Based on the user and customer profile and what kind of products the user is interested in, related blogs/articles/videos/Independent blog links can be presented to the user. Each content will provide user the option to share content in the social media. The distribution of content via social media will attract more customer to the B2B site.

Conclusion

B2B business has yet to use the full potential of social media. With the power Sitecore, an integrated B2B eCommerce platform with Sitecore can achieve this goal very quick and it can add great value to the business.

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About Himadri Chakrabarti

I am a software developer architect and a Sitecore MVP. My professional interest is everything and anything related to Software Architecture, .NET, Sitecore, Node.js, NoSQL etc. Outside of my profession, I am a hobbyist photographer. Link to my photography site http://himadriphotography.com/
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