Yesterday I covered the five worst B2B social media screw-ups, so now let’s look at the BEST.

Success stories in this space are few and far between. A recent report showed just 14% of the largest industrial companies have a social media strategy, let alone a good one. There are many good reasons for the slow adoption of SM at the industrials, including the perilous economy and a customer base that could care less about your freakin’ tweets if their railcar of chemicals is an hour late.

A few months ago I spent time assessing the state of SM at B2B companies and overall, my research showed that B2B companies don’t seem to get the notion of community and are trying to fit traditional marketing stereotypes into the new media.  Here are five breaking the mold and leading the way:

Number 5: Ingram Micro — Ingram Micro is the world’s largest technology distributor to the IT industry. You would think with a geek-fest customer base they would have all of the sweetest social media apps – and they probably do, behind a secure firewall where it belongs! Ingram makes the list for the very cool open Facebook sites connecting employees among its far-flung global operations. Recently used Twitter to “broadcast” from a partners meeting.

Number 4: Boeing — The time-lapse YouTube videos of planes being built are impressive but the cornerstone of Boeing’s social media presence is a longtime blog, started by their VP -Marketing Commercial Airplanes, as a way to expand the conversation of commercial aviation to the Web. In its first two years, Randy’s Journal, saw more than a half million individual visits. They have a secure presence on Twitter. Any good? Don’t know — I wasn’t allowed through the gate. Let me in! I have an appointment to see the wizard!

Number 3: Cisco Systems — Extraordinarily good community-building on Facebook, including a blog, message board, news and open membership for employee sites around the world. Proving to be a real B2B social media innovator as they launch products only on digital channels. They even launched a product through Second Life. I don’t know if anybody actually saw it, but they did it.

Number 2: General Electric — I’ve found that when a company is well-managed, it tends to do EVERYTHING well. GE is no exception. They have a thoughtful, integrated social media presence that is informative, professional and … fun. GE distinguishes itself as the only leading industrial company that places an actual face with its SM efforts — Megan Parker. She effectively mixes effective press release reporting with 140-character wit. The real hub of the SM wheel is GEreports.com, a blog-style information center making effective use of videos and search-by-topic capabilities. You have to love a company that has a post on its Facebook page titled “I’m over 30 and still think it’s OKAY to get hammered from time 2 time!!”

Number 1: IBM — For years their print and TV ads have puzzled me, but they seem to be getting social media right. IBM is a great example of a company with a real interest in community – a logical move since their tech audience loves online forums and bulletin boards. Check out their blog for proof of that. In fact, the IBM corporate social media presence is minimal as they let customers and employees tell their story. They’ve created the conversation and then they’ve let go of it. IBM’s social media portfolio includes virtual worlds, podcasts, video and the use of Twitter to keep its 380,000 employees (in 150 countries) connected.

So, what companies have I missed? Any B2B screw-ups or heroes that should be on my radar screen?
Illustration: This is a photo I took near Mont Blanc, France. Did you notice the climbers?
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