Why B2B companies should get serious about social media?
While it became somehow generally accepted that social media is an essential part of marketing communication for Customer Brands, for Business to Business (B2B) companies the connection with social media isn’t so obvious and natural to come. Particularly not for those in more traditional industries. Who would feel confident to go social with so unsexy products as car components, industrial lubricants or boat propellers?
Of course, some B2B enterprises are already finding out how social media presence can help them to inform prospective customers and even shorten sales cycles, but they are still lagging much behind their B2C counterparts, both in terms of the width as well as the depth of the social media usage. The benefits of social media B2B engagement, however, are not just a pipe dream. They are facts. Here are the Top 8 Reasons Why B2B Brands Should Get Serious About Social Media to create a point of difference among the competition and drive efficiency into their business.
8 Reasons Why B2B Companies Need to Use Social Media
1. Strong Branding
B2B organizations still need a strong brand and a clear message behind their product/service. They should, therefore, tell a story that evokes emotions and goes far beyond price, global reach, and performance. A successful B2B social marketing strategy is all about “telling stories” borrowing the words from Jonathan Wichmann of Orca Social, a social media consultancy. “Many of these big B2B companies have great stories to tell and they have really brainy and fascinating people on the payroll. Which is a huge asset because you can put them out there and let them talk or maybe help them talk”, he says.
Why not making your employees the brand ambassadors then? Share their relevant knowledge in a form of an interview published on a blog and other social media platforms. This is a great way to transmit an authentic brand message, build trust and boost your employees’ engagement, not to mention the traffic that comes from their social network!
2. Peer-to-peer Engagement with Business Partners
“B2B typically relies on its sales function and account management team to establish and strengthen customer/client relationships,” says Brent Walker, vice president and chief marketing officer at C2B Solutions, a healthcare marketing consulting firm.
While B2B companies do sell to other businesses, the decision makers within these B2B companies are still humans! In fact, a 2013 Google and CEB research proved that B2B customers are more than twice as likely to consider a brand that shows personal value over business value. Social gives B2B marketers a great opportunity to leave the corporate vibe away and approach business partners in more peer-to-peer manner. Why not trying to establish a connection with a potential business partner by “liking” his/her photo or commenting on it?
3. Speed up Sales Cycles
For many B2B industrial organizations, the most valuable selling points are their manufacturing facilities and yet, these facilities often get to be showed to the prospects no sooner than until a very advanced stage of the sales cycle. Social media provides a great shortcut to this process. Here is how Etratech Inc., an electronics contract manufacturer, used YouTube videos to cleverly deliver virtual tours of their manufacturing facility and consequently managed to shorten the sales cycles from six-to-eight months up to as little as six to eight weeks.
4. Social Selling
The role of social media in social selling has been partly covered in an article on Why You Should Use LinkedIn to Grow Your Business. Each social media platform is different, but LinkedIn, a network built specifically for professionals, provides a particularly nice opportunity for B2B marketers to find the right prospects, build trusted relationships, and finally achieve their sales goals. Your LinkedIn Page is your “store window to the world”, says Tim Hughes, an expert in Social Selling and UK Commercial Industries Business Development Director at Oracle UK. All B2B companies can increase their chances to be chosen as a product/service provider by highlighting in their LinkedIn Company Page the end points of the business – benefits offered to the potential clients or partner – “quicker transport”, “lower stock”, “increased revenues”.
5. Build Authority
Social media provides an amazing opportunity for individuals and businesses to position themselves as Experts in a given niche. As a B2B company, you might consider creating a specific Facebook Group to build a community and add value to your customers and prospects or/and pump out a lot of rich and highly shareable content into your Twitter account. Sharing relevant content from your website on the social media networks drives the most valuable traffic to your website – interested prospects. Here at Brand24, we do share all our blog posts via Brand24 Twitter account often accompanied with a dedicated image to maximize impact and engagement.
6. SEO Optimisation
Every tweet you send out, every Facebook update you create and every LinkedIn post you publish does contribute to your website’s search engine ranking in addition to increasing your website traffic! Google is constantly updating the way in which they rank websites and social media is becoming more important as an SEO signal. Being talked about and mentioned on social media gives you a better chance for a higher page ranking. Make sure, though, you know exactly what people talk about when referring to your brand! Use social listening tools to monitor your audience’s sentiment and react if your brand reputation is put at risk. A good page ranking is one thing, and a good PR another.
7. Customer Feedback
Social media is a direct line to responsive and effective customer service. Facebook has now surpassed 1.5 billion monthly active users, that is more than China’s entire population! It is followed by Instagram, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn with respectively 400 million, 320 million, 300 million and 100 million users. No matter which industry you are in, at least some of your customers are on social media and most probably they do speak about their experiences with your brand. Without a social media presence, B2B companies lose their chance not only to provide an excellent customer service but also to collect feedback and effectively improve their product and services.
8. Keep up with Your Prospects
Social media is how the current and the next generations of B2B customers are choosing to learn about new solutions and stay up-to-date with the offering of the brands they are connected to. Social media networks do and will continue to enable B2B companies to engage with and educate their audience and ultimately close the sales circles ahead before the competition.
Now. This is just a tip of an iceberg of all benefits and reasons why B2B companies should consider twice any marketing decision that ignores social media. What are other benefits for a B2B company from using social media networks? Share with us your experience, comments, and questions.