Many of our clients are B2B businesses. When we first meet them, they’re not convinced of the need for a social marketing strategy. We often hear responses such as “That’s something my kids do.” Or “We sell to other businesses, not consumers. That won’t work for us.” The reality is that social media marketing is not a B2C strategy…it’s a Business 2 People strategy.
Yes, social media is comprised of marketing channels that reach consumers, but it is also a marketing tool that allows B2B firms to craft or enhance their own brand in such a way that allows them to become experts in their field, which will attract customers to them.
Social marketing also has a targeted reach capability that B2Bs need to efficiently message directly to their potential customers.
Still not convinced? Here are seven reasons why B2Bs need social marketing.
1. Targeted Reach
Amazingly, there are over 1 billion people on Facebook. Chances are some of those are people to whom you wish to talk. After all, businesses are made up of people, and there are lots of people with Facebook accounts.
With Facebook’s advanced search options, you can extend the reach of your brand onto social channels by using targeted, paid messages that pinpoint users in certain demographics, geographic areas, or who have certain interests. You can also define your target audience by whether you want to reach business owners, or all those in a particular company, or even fans of other Facebook business pages.
LinkedIn is another social network based around business. The 225 million users share their professional profiles and gather to discuss business topics. It’s also a site where businesses market themselves to other businesses.
That site’s advanced search features can identify users with certain job titles, in certain industries, or in specific locations. Using LinkedIn Ads, then, allow you to directly message those with whom you want to reach.
Using the search and ad functions found in social media makes your advertising budget more efficient because you are only talking to those individuals to whom you are targeting.
2. Build Awareness
Just like wearing a company’s t-shirt or hat, social media does a great job of building awareness. By establishing your brand on social networks and posting regularly, your business has the opportunity to generate buzz, and create prospects out of your target audience.
This will have the affect of populating prospects around the edge of your sales funnel. That way, when buyers are searching for solution providers, you will occupy a top-of-mind position and get the sale.
3. Promote Credibility, Professionalism, and Enhance Your Brand
The traditional media, print, TV and radio, were limited formats for brands. They were limited by space (print) and by time (TV and radio). To get more of either cost more money. Thus, brands never had the opportunity to deliver content at length that would enhance their reputation as an expert in a given field.
Social marketing has changed that. Through blogging and social posts, brands now have the opportunity to show their expertise. This allows a brand to say, “Hey, we love this stuff. We eat, sleep, and breathe it. We’re the experts, come to us for the answers.”
Blogging and social posts allow you to demonstrate your expertise in your industry through your content. That will make you an authority in your field, making your brand relevant, and building trust with potential customers. In that way, people will know who you are, feel comfortable with you, and buy from you.
4. Reinforce Your SEO Strategy
The Google search engine, as well as Yahoo and Bing, operates on an algorithm that delivers search results based on who has authority in a given field.
For example, let’s say someone searches home improvement. Company A blogs every week and regularly posts on social media. Company B does neither. Search engines will reward Company A with a higher search result because their online content makes them an authority in that field.
Thus, being active in social media and blogging helps your search ranking results.
Search engines also index (meaning they look at and take into account the content you have there) social sites such as Pinterest, Slideshare, and of course Google Plus. So being active on these sites ill also help your in your SEO efforts.
5. Affordable Marketing
Social Marketing is the most affordable avenue available right now to reach your target audience. The social channels that you want to be part of (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Slideshare) require no investment to set up a company page.
There are advertising opportunities available on most of them, as well. These are far more affordable than the traditional channels of print, TV or radio. Social advertisers can target their ads to reach a certain demographic, region, industry, job title or interests. Ads can cost as little as $10 per day on Facebook and LinkedIn.
6. Personally Connect with Your Customers
This is the greatest benefit of social marketing, and is also the major difference between traditional, one-way advertising, and today’s two-way, digital marketing.
Traditional advertising was a one-way communication model. Brands spoke to us through print, or in 30-second blocks on TV or radio. There was no conversation between the brand and the customer.
Digital marketing, however, allows for both of those scenarios. Consumers can now ask questions, and get responses from the brand. Think of that! People interacting with a brand had never happened before.
Social media has other applications for B2B businesses, as well. It’s been documented that many companies are using social networks as customer service channels to work out issues or questions that might arise. Others are actively monitoring the social sphere, using any mention of their name as an opportunity to reach out and touch the customer in a positive fashion.
One restaurant went so far as to send a meal to a customer who was arriving at their local airport. Why? That customer had tweeted that he was happy to be arriving home, and just wished he could get a meal from his favorite restaurant. That type of response to a single tweet creates brand allegiance and loyalty from customers.
That is meaningful engagement.
Could your business develop that type of customer engagement? Along with creating authority for your brand, this is the most important reason to be involved with social media.
7. Businesses Are Already There
If none of the reasons above motivate you to establish a presence on social media, then consider this: Your Competition is Probably Already There!
A recent Social Media Today blog post reports that in 2012, 83% of all businesses had a page on Facebook. In addition, 80% of businesses were using Twitter and LinkedIn for lead generation.
To demonstrate how businesses feel about social media, consider that a 2012 survey showed that 64% of B2B businesses believe social media is the second-most important factor in their web search strategy, and that they had adopted it, and were investing in it.
Further, the same study reported that 75% of B2B firms expect to use social media in their future purchasing. If one of them is searching for a product or service you offer, do you want to be left out?
The bottom line: Social Media is growing among B2B businesses as a tool for marketers.
Ready to Learn More?
At Engage321, we help our clients with social marketing. Are goal is to get you to fall in love with your customers, so they’ll fall back in love with you. We do this through digital engagement by leveraging the power of social media.
Want to turn your customers into soul mates? Let’s start a conversation. Send me an email at [email protected]
Sources: Social Media Today, Forbes
Bob Turner is a certified Social Marketing and experienced Digital Marketing professional with Engage321.