Most B2B marketers are “doing” social media, but many are still unsure about whether or not it’s worth the effort. There seems to be coexistence of belief that social media marketing is important for B2B, but also skepticism and uncertainty in the value of social media in the B2B realm.
With so much of the social media marketing conversation focusing on B2C and many of the examples of ROI coming from the consumer space, it is understandable why skepticism still abounds. In B2C, social media marketing is mostly about engagement and brand experience. In B2B, the drivers for social media are vastly different. Social media in business is more about information sharing and content consumption. It is a place for potential customers to search for information, connect with businesses, network, share common interests, recommend and review products and much more. Social media gives you another platform for prospects and customers to learn about your company and offers many potential benefits.
1. B2B social media increases brand awareness
Social media is an extension of your brand and is a great avenue to increase brand awareness. Being on social media allows B2B buyers and end users to interact with your brand in a more personal and interactive manner. Customers are going to purchase from B2B companies with which they are familiar, so having more channels, other than your website, to interact with prospects is essential.
2. B2B social media builds thought leadership
Prospects are looking for valuable and educational information, not a sales pitch. Social media provides another opportunity for you to build thought leadership for your B2B company and your people. Thought leadership has become increasingly central to B2B marketing, especially for services firms. And it makes sense! If your prospects are looking to hire an expert, what better way for you to differentiate your company from all the others who make the same claims of expertise, than by demonstrating your expertise, not just claiming it. Anyone can say it, but persuasion takes place when you can prove it by doing. Social media allows you to reach a wider audience with the sharing of best practices, articles, industry reports and other thought leadership-oriented content.
3. B2B social media educates potential customers about your product or service
Many B2B companies’ products and services require detailed explanations and maybe even a demonstration in order to understand exactly what it is. Social media channels such as YouTube are great avenues to provide digital education materials to clients. A simple 5-minute video explaining your product can significantly help with educating potential customers.
A company blog could also be a great way to provide valuable, educational content in a more informal way. Plus, every blog post is an additional link that can be indexed by search engines to increase your SEO. Increasing your SEO means increasing traffic to your website which can lead to more sales. See how all of this is interconnected?
4. B2B social media earns the trust of existing customers
Social media is an opportunity for your business to earn customers’ trust by delivering valuable content and creating a platform for communication. It also allows prospects to ask questions through comments which helps start a conversation and hopefully a relationship. Some companies use Facebook or Twitter for customer service, but you have to be sure to respond to customers’ questions and comments in a timely fashion.
As seen in the chart above, many brands engage with customers via Twitter for customer service needs. For example, UPS has a twitter handle, @UPSHelp, and has an excellent average response time of 1.1 hours, which is one of the best among companies. On the other hand, Hewlett Packard (@HPSupport) recorded a long response time of 30.2 hours, which does not look good for the company.
Case study proof
But why believe us? Here are a couple examples of B2B companies that used social media to improve their business.
Etratech Inc. – This electronics contract manufacturer began using LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and YouTube just over a year ago. With its manufacturing facility being one of their most valuable selling points, Etratech created YouTube videos to deliver virtual tours. The result? Its sales cycles decreased from six to eight months to six to eight weeks!
Madison Electric Products – This company provides products to the electrical supply and manufacturing industries. Its main social media strategy goals were to increase awareness and enhance reputation among key audiences, drive traffic to the website and position Madison Electric as a trusted resource within the industry. The company launched a company blog, Facebook page and Twitter account. It resulted in a 70% increase in traffic to their website and doubled its submission to the Sparks Innovation Center which had a direct impact on the bottom line.
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Hopefully after reading this blog post we have convinced you that B2B social media is about so much more than tweets, likes and follows. Whether you are already “doing” social media or not, you need to make sure that you have a well-organized program or strategy if you want to benefit from the advantages social media can offer your B2B company. In today’s connected world, a solid social media program is a necessity for all businesses, B2B or B2C.
Need help with your social media program? Contact us today!