Many B2B companies ask me whether Social Media is right for them. This post is all about why social media and B2B go hand in hand. Social Media is all about conversational marketing and this is why it works so well with B2B strategy.
Social media is not about the masses. It is about reaching your target audience. Listening before selling and hearing before talking. Oftentimes businesses like to measure a social media campaign’s success by the number of followers its Twitter account has or the number of fans its Facebook page has, however, these measures are not necessarily the signs to a well-executed social media campaign.
Social media is all about the few rather than the many. The community you build up is ideally made up of the people who are most interested in your brand. If we apply the 80-20 rule here, we are speaking of the 20% who make up 80% of your business.
B2B strategy, just like B2C strategy is all about networking, conversing with the right people, at the right time. The more in tune you are to things that are happening in your network, the more you increase your chances to be at the right place, at the right time.
According to eMarketer in 2010, these will be the results for online marketing spending:
As you can see, Website spending is forecast to rise 71% and social media spending will increase 60% in the next year.
It is apparent that companies are understanding that they need to: 1) Create a social presence within social networks and 2) Create a Website and/or blog that reflects an active online presence.
As to the reasons most B2B companies are using social networks, emarketer had the following results:
As you can see, companies turn to social networks to show their leadership in their field, to find new potential customers by communicating with the community, to receive customer feedback and give customer service. There’s no better tool these days than twitter to handle real-time customer service issues and many brands do this beautifully, including ComcastCares, Dell, and Starbucks. They also advertise and do market research via social networks.
What about the reasons that companies use social media?
The top reason B2B companies (just like B2C companies) use social media is to generate awareness about their brand. Second top reason is to engage with customers on an on-going daily basis. As you can see, the 3rd top reason that companies use social media is to engage with top influencers on the Web.
Monitoring online conversations and responding to feedback is an extremely important element of social media which only 14% of companies seem to understand.
B2B companies that are not utilizing the social tools they are given today, will find themselves at a major disadvantage to other B2B companies that are using LinkedIn, twitter and other such networks to extend their reach and create better communication between the brand and their customers and potential customers.
Next time you doubt whether social media is right for B2B companies, think about what B2B strategy is all about – it is about the relationships and partnerships you build with your colleagues and there’s no better way to do this today than through social media.
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