Modern philosophy was by two important “schools” of thought: individualism and utilitarianism. Although most people misconstrue one for the other, they normally differ in their content. For the individualist of the Ayn Rand variety, personal happiness is the main objective in life. For the utilitarian followers of Jeremy Bentham, ultimate virtue pertains togiving happiness to the greatest number of people.

We can relate these two schools to the B2B world, particularly in the rough-and-tumble world of social media marketing in which a business is made to decide on strategies providing utmost efficiency. More important still is choosing the appropriate mindset to adopt.

Individualist: We’ll Do it My Way

The noteworthy author of Atlas Shrugged and the Fountainhead believed that Man (in its individual conception) is an independent and sovereign being. Opinions outside his realm are alien if not irrelevant to how he lives his life. He also acknowledges that there is no force that influences his life (e.g. society, religion, the State) other than reason and the ability to make free decisions.

To put this in the context of social media marketing, business managers can take the individualist path of creative self-realization without the pressure of competition. Rand herself writes in one of her letters that “The creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.” In a way, B2B companies should think of finding their own unique ways to market their products and services using social media platforms rather than concocting copy-cat gimmicks in a bid to outdo the competition.

Utilitarian: A Spoonful of Goodness

A far cry from the objectivist point of view Ayn Rand proposes in many of her works, English philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s utilitarian postulates assume a more humanist and altruist perspective. Justice and ethics are central to Bentham’s works, and to the string of modern utilitarian scholars he inspired. Encountering the problem of how best to act morally, they are all one in saying that the greatest good derives from the dual act of adding to the satisfaction and lessening the pain of a great number of people.

Businesses that assume Bentham’s stance believe in one thing, and that is customer satisfaction. Whatever social strategies they apply, the most important thing for them is to provide business solutions, to be wherever there is a small business struggling with specific issues. In short, businesses that follow this path are more customer-centric in their lead generation activities.

What are you?

In terms of forging B2B customer relations through LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, which of the two mindsets would you rather assume? If you’re still not sure, you can always subject them to a Hegelian synthesis, in which both are prioritized equally.