As president-CEO of Strategic Communica-tions Group, Marc Hausman works with b-to-b and business-to-government companies on social media strategies. The company, which was founded 15 years ago as a public relations consultancy, began to focus on social media about three years ago. Today, 90% of Strategic's revenue comes from social media communications. BtoB recently spoke with Hausman about the best ways to use social media for reaching government buyers.
BtoB: What kinds of social communities are companies using in their b-to-g efforts?
Marc Hausman: Horizontal networks like Facebook or LinkedIn have a level of relevancy in the public sector, but in terms of applications, those are [used mostly] to support recruitment objectives. [There are also] niche online communities that specifically cater to government decision-makers. There's Govloop.com; the best way to describe it is as Facebook for federal workers. You can create profiles, post photos, join groups and participate in discussions. But unlike Facebook, Govloop is much more oriented toward professional development, sharing of best practices, obtaining knowledge about different vendors and technologies and approaches. Another social network that is very relevant is The Federal Contractor Network, tfcn.net. This network specifically caters to systems integrators, professional services providers and technology vendors who are seeking different partnerships and teaming relationships to pursue government contracts. ... In the past, you'd have to go to events, work the phone and those traditional business development outreach activities; but now, you can identify partners through this online community. It's a much more efficient approach. Last, there's govtwit.com, a directory of social media engagement and activity of federal agencies, congressional offices, and state and local municipalities. [Strategic Communications Group built govtwit.com in partnership with BearingPoint's public services practice.] So if you want to know which senior decision-makers at, for example, the Department of Agriculture, have blogs or if they're on Twitter, all of that can be found on govtwit.com.
BtoB: What's the key to being successful in using social media to reach this audience?
Hausman: The important thing is that it's still in early-adopter phase; no organization has missed out. Second, you still have to execute traditional branding and awareness external communications tactics; but now, if you've got really interesting content, you can laser-target potential customers, potential teaming partners and even prospective employees through a variety of different social and online communities in a very measurable and targeted way.