If you operate a business-to-business (B2B) company, chances are you’resemi-convinced that social media just “doesn’t work” for you. At thesame time, you feel like the only kid who didn’t get invited to the party ofthe year. Heck, it could be the best party in decades! On top of that, you’rebombarded daily with news of social media business trends and innovativesocial-sharing strategies, and have even seen a live stream of the mainsocial networks being grilled in Congress for possibly interfering with theU.S. elections. With the evidence of social media’s power stacking up,it’s hard for even the most Facebook-averse business owner to remain skeptical.
- From the B2B mindset, thinking about social media might seem abstract. Can an industrial insurance company be of any relevance to a Facebook audience? Can a medical equipment distribution business achieve anything on Twitter? The answer is yes.
- In my experience managing the marketing efforts for B2B clients in at least 5 different industries, I know that the first reaction to social media marketing is often doubt — until clients see the increases in engagement, followers, lead generation and even brand new sales channels that sprout from these efforts. It is important to manage expectations, because, Social Media is just ONE cog in the wheel of many that equate to the ever relevant word: results. I can tell you firsthand, you don’t want to miss out on this. The reality is that not being on social media is hindering your growth and opportunities. Not being present, as not showing up to an event you were expected to attend, could lead competitors to say, “Look, so and so didn’t make it.”
- Using a well-thought-out strategy, setting specific key performance indicators (KPIs) from the beginning and being consistent with your content will yield a great return on investment (ROI) and get you into that party. So, here are five reasons for building a winning B2B social media strategy and tips on how to do it well:
Reach your customers’ emotions.
- One of the first things you may hear when you talk to B2B sales managers is that this is a purely rational market — decisions are pragmatic and solely based on numbers, cash flow and revenue projection. This is just not true. While considerable weight is put into the rational part of the purchase, decision-makers are often filled with emotions when it comes to selecting a provider. The result of these selections could affect their jobs, their careers and their overall stability. Nobody wants to be the person who bought that customer relationship management (CRM) software that was a complete headache and generated huge losses.
- These emotions need to be addressed with a more humane approach, and social media gives us the ability to have a closer connection to the buyer, not the entity. Examples of this are using videos of client testimonials that feel real and not scripted and introducing your employees to your social audience to start the conversation in the digital environment, thereby creating closer relationships offline.
Avoid being invasive.
- The process lasts longer in B2B sales. Sometimes it can take months — even years — before the prospect moves down the sales funnel and becomes a
customer. During these cycles, B2B companies try their best to nurture the relationship and stay relevant through careful lead segmentation and remarketing strategies, but this can get tricky.
- You don’t want to bother your prospects with too many emails or calls just to make sure they remember you. Social media allows you to be present without constantly knocking on their doors. If you have a good content strategy, they will see it and remember you.
- An example of great content is showcasing client success stories with your product. Combine good storytelling and the use of video to broaden your reach. Another idea is to use media (photos and videos) from events your brand has sponsored to exemplify how you stay on top of industry trends and invite future prospects to connect at the next event.
Promote your thought leadership.
- You know how important thought leadership is for B2B businesses — it builds trust, raises awareness among potential customers and will likely have an impact on their purchase decision. Thought leadership is built mainly through great content, but there’s another factor that’s just as important: distribution.
- Is great content still great if nobody reads it? I think not. A solid distribution strategy is needed for your content to maximize its reach and effect. Social media channels are the best and most efficient way to distribute content to targeted audiences in all markets. You can even create audiences on social networks based on your prospects database to make sure you’re reaching the people you want.
Gain your customers’ trust.
- Let’s be clear. In this day and age, there’s an action we all take when we’re interested in a company (or person, but that’s a topic for another article). We google them.
- Yes, I know. You already may have an AdWords campaign set up, and your website looks nice. But that’s not enough. People know you will say only wonderful things about your product on your website. They want to see reviews of your business solutions, as well as comments from your clients and interactions. They need to trust you.
- Social media offers a window into a community where users can engage with your content, participate in your Q&A efforts and talk about their experiences. Having this presence will give you more credibility.
Leverage video content.
- Many B2B companies have products that offer solutions for very complex needs. Explaining these new technologies, approaches and services can sometimes be a challenge. Video allows us to do this in a friendlier, closer and more intelligible way. Additionally, video consumption is rising rapidly in social media, with Cisco reporting that 75% of mobile traffic will be video by 2021. In my experience, video distribution is one of the most cost-efficient strategies in digital marketing, yielding a high return on advertising spend (ROAS) for some KPIs.
There are many other reasons why youshould consider social media as part of your B2B marketing strategy, and somelisted above may not apply to your specific business. Social media is not afad, though, and every industry is evolving into this new digital age. Build acomprehensive strategy and adapt it to every social platform. As you know, themore personalized you get, the better the results.
Thank you Forbes.com for the original article.