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    B2B Social MediaTake a moment to think about, and count, the number of B2C social media success stories that pop into your head.

    I’ll venture to guess that you could immediately name five to 10, if not many more. From Ford to Dell to Zappos to Best Buy, B2C social media winners – those organizations that caught on early and created a cult following of brand cheerleaders via the social web – are hard to miss.

    But how about the B2B social media winners? I’m guessing these weren’t as easy to name.

    And yet, there are just as many B2B organizations successfully conquering social media. While their stories might not be as well-known, we think these 5 B2B social media winners are doing a pretty doggone good job. Tell us if you agree.

    AMEX OPEN Forum B2B social media1. American Express OPEN
    American Express OPEN is the company’s division dedicated to helping small business owners succeed. It has based its marketing strategy around the social web, realizing that social media has become a priority for small business owners.

    Since 2007, AMEX OPEN has relied on its OPEN Forum to provide business advice and insight. The social site includes a blog with frequently updated content, and a large collection of videos that users can rate and share via other social networking channels. In the site’s “Idea Hub,” forum members can network with one another and with industry experts, as well as customize topics to their specific interests.

    The social site has been extremely successful, increasing unique visitors 525% over the past year – from 160,000 in December 2008 to nearly 1 million in December 2009.

    HSBC Social Media2. HSBC
    To target business entrepreneurs and provide them with an active forum to share and gain knowledge, HSBC has created The HSBC Business Network for both customers and non-customers.

    It’s evident that the HSBC Business Network truly thrives on its members.

    The site includes a network of blogs, and invites members to create their own blog to share their personal experiences with other entrepreneurs. Currently, the network is made up of 148 blogs from members.

    The site’s homepage is populated with content from users: the most popular recent blog post, forum post and user profile.

    3. Microsoft Advertising
    Microsoft Advertising has been using social media as a vehicle to listen to, educate, support and market to their customers and potential customers since 2006. However, the past year has seen a distinct effort from Microsoft to reach customers through social web participation.

    An adCenter Community site as well as blogs, Twitter accounts, Facebook presence, videos, photos and social media coverage of industry events along with proactive listening and community manager participation have been instrumental for growing the adCenter community and providing customers with an opportunity to be involved with how Microsoft does business with them.

    Here’s a white paper (pdf) by Mel Carson of Microsoft Advertising that documents their foray into social media as a B2B company. Great insights.

    Archer Exchange Social Media4. Archer
    The social media strategy for Archer Technologies, provider of risk and compliance solutions, and a 2009 Forrester Groundswell Award winner for B2B social media, revolves around two components.

    First, the Archer Community is an online social network that gives customers a forum to interact, share best practices and provide feedback to help drive Archer product development. The second component is the Archer Exchange (pictured above), an online marketplace that enables clients to download applications developed by other clients or by Archer.

    The two social sites have been successful at driving website traffic and attracting new members: The Archer Community receives 20 new members, 4,000 unique visits and 400+ downloads every week, while the Archer Exchange boasts 17,000 unique visits, 90,000 page views and 1,200 downloads.

    But the real benefit has been enhanced product development as a result of user feedback and sharing. Archer tells Forrester that its Archer Community directly helped form its Business Continuity Management, Mobile GRC and Data Feed Manager applications.

    Cree Social Media5. Cree
    LED Manufacturer Cree is embracing social media to build awareness and promote the benefits of LED technology, rather than directly sell products.

    At the center of its latest campaign, “LED Revolution,” is an interactive social website. On the site, visitors can submit their bad lighting photos (think bad 1980s office fluorescent lighting) to win LED recessed downlights. The site’s blog is posted to almost daily, and humorous videos encourage visitors to, “Break Your Fluorescent Shackles!”

    Cree also leverages Facebook and Twitter in a push/pull approach for the website.

    Hear from Ginny Skalski, Cree social media specialist — who happens to have a background in journalism and community management rather than marketing – in this video on the Social Media B2B blog.

    Of course, these five B2B social media winners are only part of a much longer list of companies that are successfully interacting with customers, building brand awareness and driving traffic to their websites through the social web. What are your favorite B2B social media success stories?