Business to business social media marketing

Social media marketing relates to a business’ activities across social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, discussion boards and video sites. The aim is to reach and connect with its target market, conveying its message via the appropriate format so that it results in visibility and traffic. Some of the main goals of social media marketing include:

  • Building relationships with the market
  • Increasing awareness
  • Uncovering new customers
  • Generating leads and sales
  • Improving customer retention
  • Enhancing brand loyalty
  • Building a community around the business

Both Business to Customer (B2C) and Business to Business (B2B) businesses use social media marketing effectively to achieve their marketing goals, yet there are certain basic differences in the way B2C and B2B implement this. Here is a quick look at the main differences.

The Return on Investment

A critical aspect of any marketing activity, ROI for B2B can be different from B2C. While B2B social media marketing focuses on generating leads, B2C can focus on branding, engagement and so forth. The ROI for B2B is therefore more easily measured than for B2C and their methods of connecting with their audience are different.

The way the business positions itself

Social media marketing is not about direct selling. Because of this, B2B companies position themselves as thought leaders, so that they can provide the valuable information. To do this, the business involves itself in issues related to its industry or talks about an event. It makes recommendations to its audience. The goal is to position itself as an expert that its market can look up to and trust.

Choice of social media sites

Most B2C businesses choose Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. B2B businesses choose LinkedIn as their main social site to engage with other businesses. This enables them directly with decision makers of the businesses they target.

Based on the above, it is clear that with B2B, social media marketing is about the relevance of the community rather than its size. Two hundred engaged prospects on Twitter is easier to track and monitor rather than thousands of followers who are not really connected or interested in what you have to say. Measurability matters in B2B social media marketing and based on this, goals are set with parameters to track the campaign.

Examples of B2B social media successes

American Express’ OPEN Forum and Facebook campaigns are very popular. Through the OPEN Forum and ongoing campaigns on its Facebook page, AmEx provides support to its business customers. Recently, AmEx’s “Big Break” campaign ran a contest for SMEs announcing that five winners would receive an all-expense paid trip to Facebook’s headquarters to discuss a makeover for their business in addition to $20,000 to help them with their current social media strategy.

Business Week, the weekly US business magazine built a networking site called Business Exchange to enable it engage with its readers and expand its online communication. This quickly became successful and grew to over 40,000 users who currently contribute over one million article links.

Cisco, the world leader in networking actively engages in social media and runs regular campaign to complement its ongoing engagement strategy. A new router was recently launched exclusively on social media channels, helping them save $100,000 in the process. Their “Future of Shopping” video on borderless networks has more than 6 million views.

Some tips for B2B marketers to use social media marketing effectively are:

  • Focus on listening,  interaction and knowledge sharing
  • Avoid the hard sell approach
  • Take the time to develop relationships by investing time and effort
  • Form a clear strategy and stay committed to implementing it
  • Build a network of influencers who will share your content and extend your reach
  • Ensure that social media profiles are optimised and up to date and linked to the business’ website, blog and other social media accounts
  • Monitor your brand to know what is being said
  • Maintain synergy between various social media activities and cross-link between them

B2B businesses can use social media to establish their credibility by building a strong social presence. This is done by creating well designed social media profiles that prospective customers and vendors alike can access.  Consistent and well-planned social media activity presents the business as one that is competent, adding personality.  B2B social media marketing allows the business’ professionals to share their expertise via social media sites, helping them build strong business relationships with a personal touch. Using social media to engage with each other within the organization can be a great way to keep employee morale high, increasing productivity and retaining employees.