Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Best Practices B2B Site

I recently saw a mention of, and since I’m fascinated by B2B marketplace sites, I took a look. Founded in 2000, it seems to be profitable and recently obtained another round of venture funding. It is commonly described as an exchange for parts and components, but they describe their model as a proprietary platform that facilitates “the complex process of sourcing and selling manufacturing services”. They recently revamped their platform to make it easy for buyers and sellers to share CAD designs to speed the sourcing process, so they are clearly a sophisticated user of technology.

What I found was also a best practices site for B2B community building. They have numerous industry-based communities, a system of news feeds in which a member can subscribe in various ways including content channels and tags, and various blogs. They offer blogging to their members and have a company blog. When I investigated the profile of frequent poster aj, I met’s Director of Community Content. His profile page included his other blogs, his most-used tags, and other members with profiles similar to his. Great personalization and networking! They also recognize Top Contributors on the community home page, which is another nice touch.

The site says it helps customers:

Find content. The site is content-rich and uses tags as well as content channels (the site calls them “spaces”) to organize it. There are various search options. They have a sophisticated system of RSS feeds that allows people to subscribe in various ways including tags. They also have email notification, which seems more limited in scope. They are pushing RSS, which is interesting, given how full our email inboxes are these days.

Create content. Members are asked to create profiles. They can comment on blog posts, ask questions, and receive feedback. The other content creation mechanisms are wiki-based, allowing for various types of documents that can be shared with open or closed groups. The documents allow for many types of review and comparison.

Collaborate on content. Creating wiki-based documents on the site draws colleagues of the members (who then have to become members) to collaborate on documents. And since the site is content-rich, that offers the likelihood of the new member starting the cycle all over again.

Take a close look at those three steps—find, create, collaborate. That’s social media strategy in a nutshell. Content to draw people to the site, social connectivity to increase the usefulness of the content, and collaboration to allow members to work right on the site and bring others with them. When members are not on the site, RSS feeds remind them of the value it offers to them.

This is best practices in terms of strategy as well as execution!

No comments: