3 B2B social media case studies and why they work

There’s no shortage of social media case study posts online these days. And, I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. Case studies give us examples to learn from and situations to study. All in all, it’s a great way for most to learn.

Just look at Peter Kim’s social media case study wiki–it’s chock full of examples. But, as you glance at that ever-growing list, you realize a decent chunk of these examples are B2C or consumer-based organizations (with a large portion of them in the tech sector).

What don’t we see a lot of? B2B case studies.

So, let’s take a look today at three B2B social media case studies–and why they work particularly well.


You may not think of Blendtec (the folks that brought us the wonderful Will it Blend campaign) as a B2B case study, but in large part it is. In fact, one of the key goals early on in the campaign was to give sales folks a door opener with businesses they were selling.

The Will it Blend campaign is, really, one of the first and most successful social media campaigns. The results speak for themselves: 134 million-plus views on YouTube (1 million-plus for many videos including 8 million-plus for the recent iPad clip), numerous awards and most importantly, a 700 percent increase in sales since the campaign started in 2006. Wow.

But, what can other B2B organizations learn from this campaign? I think that conversation begins and ends with content. Blendtec didn’t really do anything that groundbreaking when it comes to strategy. But, they absolutely hit it out of the park when it came to content. The concept, the execution. It was all perfect.

So, the key learning her, in my view, is to focus on creating unique, compelling content that will push your customers to act–whether that means sharing said content or buying your products/services. I also think there’s a key learning here around taking advantage of your existing resources. Blendtech clearly took advantage of an existing resource (Tom Dickson, the guy in the white lab coat) and turned it into gold. Who–or what–are your untapped internal resources? Just think–you could have the next Tom Dickson on your hands!


What’s amazing about Indium as a social media case study? They have more than 14 engineers blogging on behalf of Indium.

What do they blog about? Everything from flux cleaning to solder to tombstoning. Yeah, I know, real sexy, right?

But, my big question: How did Indium convince those 14 engineers that blogging was a good idea?

Rick Short, marketing director at Indium, talks about it as a mathematical issues in this Hubspot interview. It’s simple, but genius–convincing engineers to blog using their terms (math and data). Show them the value of blog content online (it’s searchable and archivable) and how it leads to leads and business and they will buy in.

What can other B2B organizations learn from Indium? The idea of obtaining buy-in internally using terms, concepts, even language that they use–not you.

I also love the way Indium presents its blogs and bloggers on its Web site. The blogs are listed out in alphabetical order and a easy search box is located on the right-hand side so it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. They also highlight each blogger with a head shot, bio, link to their blog and contact information. Perfect. I can subscribe, find out more about the blogger and contact them, if I’m interested. Simple–but effective–and allows Indium’s customers the opportunity to get to know these people better, which is critical to thought leadership and relationship-building (and ultimately, driving leads and sales).


When you hear the words “supply chain management company” you don’t automatically think “great social media case study” do you? But, that’s exactly what’s happened with this Canadian firm.

Again, the results speak for themselves. With lofty goals of doubling leads and Web traffic numbers, Kinaxis had its work cut out for itself. But, they have exceeded expectations: 2.7X increase in Web traffic and 3.2X increase in leads.

What does Kinaxis do so well? For starters, they use a learn, laugh, share, connect strategy. Largely using humor as a way to hook and engage customers and new customers.

Just look at this video series they developed earlier this year (Suitemates) starring Kevin Pollak and Ray Wise. It’s “the comedy series big ERP doesn’t want you to watch.”

Or, what about the Late Night Supply Chain Show? Again, using humor as a hook and then using relevant content in a more informal setting.

Finally, Kinaxis has been blogging for quite a while, too (since 2004, to be exact). The 21st Century Supply Chain blog employs 18 different Kinaxis contributors and focuses squarely on thought leadership. Well, they’re also focused on inbound leads by paying careful attention to keywords, but they’ve seen remarkable results here, too, in the form of 42,000 leads (not sure what timeframe that’s over).

What can B2B organizations learn from Kinaxis? In their blogging, I think what’s key for Kinaxis is that they aren’t always shining the light on themselves. One of their key strategies is to aggregate industry content for customers and potential customers–making it easier for them to find important information they need.

Much like the Blendtec campaign above, I also think the way Kinaxis is using humor is smart. They’re a supply chain company–there’s nothing funny about that. But, their corporate culture obviously exudes humor (you think they’d be able to pull off that Late Show concept without a little self-deprecating humor?)–and they understand that it can help them be more “human” as a company, and that can lead to business down the road.

Note: Blendtec photo courtesy of Greg Picarello; manufacturing photo courtesy of Richard Beda

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28 comments on “3 B2B social media case studies and why they work

  1. Rick Short says:

    Thank you very much for this enlightening post – and for including Indium Corporation.

    Indium Corporation also employs video, emotion, and self-deprecating humor as part of our social media program. One example can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/user/INDIUMcorporation#p/u/9/MCl_Y3IJvv0

    Full Disclosure: I am the Marketing Communications Director @ Indium Corporation

  2. One of the easiest things to do when trying to keep up with all the new tech trends — I’ve been guilty of it for sure — is remembering to focus on creating interesting content. And understanding that it doesn’t have to be all about your brand. Lauren Fernandez said in a recent blog post: “Own your industry.” I think that’s right. And you can have fun doing it.

    Kinaxis has also done something really smart using LinkedIn — They researched all the supply chain groups they thought were relevant to their biz. And then they assigned different employees to be active participants in the groups. Not sure how many leads they’ve generated through that vehicle, but betting quite a few.

    Cheers, Arik.

  3. HaakonJensen says:

    Great post. Thanks for sharing your case studies. I like the humour in these – business people are people too, as Herman and Li wrote. I think B2B companies need to open their eyes on social media. I made a case study of the shipping company ShipServ for my master thesis on social media in B2B branding, where they got ROI in only three months.

    “ShipServ designed a social media strategy which evolved around using social media platforms as beacons to drive traffic to their main site, in order to qualify the “readiness to buy” of the visitors by tracking and nurturing them with an automated marketing solution. Whilst their product is an innovative technological service, the target audience are conservative late adopters; the challenge ShipServ faced was solved by creating relationships with their target audience through multiple social networks backed by a high-quality content marketing strategy.”

    URL: http://haakonjensen.no/2010/06/case-study-shipserv/

  4. Christie says:

    WOW! These case studies were both informative humorous. People often overlook the benefit of humor when dealing with business matters. I have a feeling future generations will be a tad more light hearted, while at the same job GETTING THE JOB DONE!

    As a business owner who utilizes B@B marketing, I try to incorporate smiles with sales if you will. No need to make this an unemployable experience!


  5. Arik Hanson says:

    Nice–thanks for the LinkedIn update. I hadn’t heard that angle. Thanks for stopping by, Justin.

  6. Arik Hanson says:

    For me, it’s not just humor, it’s humanizing these B2B brands. I think sometimes B2B organizations get so caught up in the product or service they provide, they forget that when you really boil it down, it’s just about people buying those products/services from other people. In other words: People do business with people like them/people they like. Lot of opportunities to be had there for B2B orgs, don’t you think?

  7. Michal says:

    Since we are on the topic…do you know of any conferences or workshops that focus on Social for B2B? There is lots out there for B2C but nothing targeting B2B. Any pointers would be helpful.

  8. Arik Hanson says:

    Have you looked at the MarketingProfs events? They usually have a few targeted directly at B2B marketers…

  9. Nancy says:

    Do you have a source for the 700% increase in sales experienced by Blendtec? Thanks!

  10. Fred M says:

    Are there good b2b social media lead generation case studies for $50 or $100 million dollar companies, They probably are not doing any consumer advertising and maybe some trade show and b2b collateral+ industry mag ads.