Matchmaking is an age-old practice.
And as Tzeitel, Hodel and Chava will tell you, it’s a tough world out there when it comes to traditional matchmaking.
The same goes for buyers and suppliers in the marketplace. Just as matchmakers once met with mothers and fathers to match their daughters to prospective husbands, businesses used to pound the pavement trying to find prospective clients, buyers, suppliers and anyone who would take a business card and put it in their pocket full of loose change and car keys.
But there came a time when girls wanted to choose their own partners and not use the matchmaker. Traditions have changed. Similarly, even though buyers and suppliers still trade business cards, with the advent of the internet, the old traditions have mostly crumbled.
Now, it’s as easy as swiping left and swiping right. And certain social platforms in the business world that Spend Matters has previously noted and covered, such as Koble (formerly SpendLead), are getting closer to that point.
“Think of Koble as a matchmaking app for businesses,” says Founder and CEO Fabrice Saporito of the platform.
That’s exactly what I thought when I logged on for a spin — it’s as though I had signed on to a Match.com-cum-Facebook of the buyer/supplier side of the world.
Who’s Using B2B Social Media Like This?
Media types like me are clearly not the target community, so I set out to see how actual users are interacting with these types of platforms.
Although she’s a busy millennial (as I was later to find out), Koble user Eléonore Roucaute, EMEA marketing manager at Determine, spoke to me about how she interacts with this particular B2B social platform — and the role she sees social media playing in procurement overall.
What are the social media platforms you use for your job specifically?
I have a personal LinkedIn account, a company LinkedIn account, a Twitter, a Viadeo, which is the French LinkedIn, a Facebook (which is not very useful, but we're supposed to post on Facebook) and YouTube, where we post videos. And for our relationships with prospects, internally we use Salesforce and other collaborative tools like Slack or Asana that are more internal facing.
As a solution provider, for what do you primarily use Koble?
As I'm in marketing, I use it mostly to publish content. When we have a new blog, an event to promote or anything like that, that’s how I use it. The positive side is that I can publish a news article and promote my content easily. So I'm also using it as a social media [tool] for now, but I think there are a lot of great features in it that could help us more, because I think it's more between a LinkedIn and a Salesforce. That's what's good about it; when someone likes one of my posts, or comments on it, or shares it, I can really interact with them directly in a kind of private chat, and if they want to hide their identity they can, but if they want to show who they are they can as well. And then you can build your kind of portfolio of contacts within the platform. I figure it's also more of a tool for the sales team, to interact with prospects, [since] I don't really have the time myself to do more than what I do on Koble. We don't, at Determine in France, have the people to really do outbound efforts. But I have a new intern now who is going to help me on the social media side.
You mentioned the combination of LinkedIn and Salesforce. For you, does Koble’s platform simply supplement these other two?
It's not a question of choosing one versus the other, it's using all of them. What's better on Koble is that I can touch a more targeted audience, because people don't have to ‘like’ my Determine account to see my news, like a Twitter or a LinkedIn. They just have to be pathed, to say, "I want information from this, this and this ...", basically tagging the kind of news they want to see. It's like a Pinterest in that way, and so Koble’s set up this way, [users] get their news from the people they're interested in.
What is the balance, from your perspective, of vendors or providers on this platform to the practitioners?
Hard to say. I know that it's more the providers who post content, like my company or consulting companies. The buyer side doesn’t [really] post in the platform, it’s more the providers pushing information, even though I think there are a greater number of people from the buy side on the platform overall. Of course, Koble has just gotten started.
Have you noticed a change in the way you do business due to using this particular platform?
For me, for now, the tool itself it is great, because it allows us to interact with prospects much more than you can on LinkedIn or other social media platforms. It goes beyond that. That's when I think it's closer to a Salesforce because you can really engage in conversations with your prospects, target them, do some analytics and more. You can put several people into a chat, so you can engage one of your salespeople. It goes a little bit deeper.
It's more collaborative.
It's more collaborative because we have a company account; [this way] if a sales guy leaves the company, we keep his contact information. Whereas when you have a sales guy who is using his own LinkedIn, creating his network of people, when he leaves the company, he takes that network with him.
Do you see platforms like this getting bigger, more adopted, in the procurement sector?
So why do people go on LinkedIn? Or why do people go on Facebook or Twitter? It's because they know they are going to see a lot of content. It's not just to look at their own resume and then connect to people, it's because today you use that as your newsfeed. To me, if you want people to engage on a platform, there are two steps. The one first one is to get the content, to drive interest, get people in, and after succeeding in that, then you have a second step which is the engagement, that is much stronger and a much better feature [on Koble] than on Twitter or Facebook or even LinkedIn. [For procurement social networks to work], you need key users. What's good is that Koble’s segmentation of content allows you to see just the content you are interested in from certain people or industries. The problem is that it's too small for now, so then if you segment too much you don't see any feeds, any news, anything. You need for now to keep your segmentation bigger if you want to see what’s going on on the platform.
Do you think there would be a danger of too much content and too much "noise" of people posting all kinds of things left and right, turning it into a kind of messy LinkedIn feed? Do you think there's ever danger of that in a business platform like this?
I don't know if it will turn into a LinkedIn honestly. I'm not saying there won't be too much noise, but it will always be more business-driven that LinkedIn, I think.
What do you see as the future of social media platforms in procurement?
The future of social platforms — I think it's really hard to tell. But I think there is so much content out there that it's not so much the platforms that are going to make the difference, it's more the content that is going to go on these platforms. There is so much everywhere, people don't have the time to read all this. It's more a matter of posting the right content, the shortest, most to-the-point, most visual as possible. I think that's how you get more traction, or make some buzz. Or use B2C techniques that apply to B2B, which would be the future of how we really should communicate in the B2B industry, especially in the procurement sphere.
Also, Generations X and Y are starting to get more responsibilities within companies, which is only logical. But these generations are more used to social media than older ones. People between 25 and 40 are more used to using social media than their older peers. I think we have to adapt our marketing strategy to this target audience.
How do both the new upstarts and the old guard survive?
I think it's the same thing for both the platforms of Koble and LinkedIn, they need to adapt to this target audience also; not just from the external user side, but from the people administering their accounts within the platforms. They need to anticipate the fact that we look more and more at the user interface and user experience (UI and UX). If it looks old or it’s not intuitive, we think it is an old technology and I think [all platforms] need to make their UI evolve to match the needs of the new generation.
Absolutely. Eléonore, are you part of that 25-to-40 demographic, if I may ask?
It seems digital nativism is becoming more a part of the fabric of doing business than ever.
And business needs to address that — we need to address that, because we, Determine, also sell a platform. So we need to target that audience and think the way they think. We all need to be really thinking about UX and UI a lot more. I think it's for all aspects of the industry.
One quick last question, do you think email will ever go away?
Note: Determine and Koble are both sponsors of Spend Matters.