It’s 2013, and it is safe to say that if your B2B company is not using social media as a marketing tool, you are behind. This is because many B2B companies (including your competitors) have realized the tremendous value in leveraging social media sites into their overall sales strategy. If for some reason your business has yet to join the social media world, this blog is meant to help introduce you to B2B social media marketing.
In general, social media are websites and applications that allow users to create profiles, publish information and connect with friends and businesses. The users of these sites connect by ‘adding’ or ‘following’ one another. By adding or following someone or some company, you in effect ‘subscribe’ to all of the content they publish. The type of content published varies across the different social media platforms.
The largest and most predominant social media site today is Facebook. Facebook currently has 1.06 billion users and is mainly used by individuals to carry out digital, interpersonal relationships. However, businesses of all kinds have started to use Facebook as a way to help market their company, build their brand and connect with their customers in the digital space. Many B2B companies have recently discovered that most of their current customers and potential prospects are already on Facebook and have started to create Facebook-based marketing strategies to expand their reach. Using Facebook, B2B marketers can now push updates on new products, promotions or other activities to a large number of interested people, with a single click.
Twitter is another social media site B2B companies are using to build brand awareness and expand their reach. Twitter is similar to Facebook in that people ‘subscribe’ to your content by following you. Twitter differs in that the content published by users is in the structured form of a ‘tweet’. A tweet is a short message (140 characters max.) that can include short ideas, quotes, links to other pages, etc. In the B2B world, tweets are a great place to post industry trends, a problem you helped solve for one of your clients or even some simple ad copy. The one thing to remember with Twitter is your tweets should always stay on topic to things your followers are interested in.
The social media site most conducive to making B2B connections is LinkedIn. LinkedIn was designed explicitly for business professionals, meaning B2B people are already using it. This is now a place where B2B companies are making new connections with buyers and increasing their contacts.
Google+ is also becoming a major player in the social media world for B2B sales and marketing. With now two times the number of users as LinkedIn (400 million), Google+ may prove to be a major competitor to Facebook in the future. The value of this for B2B companies is that Google+ is more conducive to marketing than any of the other sites in that activity on Google+ is automated into its search engine.
If your B2B company has yet to take any action towards social media marketing, setting up profiles, finding followers and posting may seem like a daunting task. However, it helps to look at these social media sites as communities that you wish to join. Just like physical communities, once you start participating in digital communities, people starting interacting with you and relationships start to form. On the other hand, if your company simply puts up a profile and then does nothing with it, social media sites aren’t likely to produce marketing results. You need to remain constantly active on these sites, not just publishing your own content, but also interacting with the content posted by others. Used properly, these sites can easily translate into B2B lead generation and increased revenue.