Anyone with a Facebook or Twitter account can see how social media marketing works for B2C companies. While it may be hard to predict which content will get shared or go viral with end-use customers, the process happens all the time. Unilever, for example, has caught fire with Dove’s Real Beauty campaign and turned it into an ever-expanding series of YouTube videos to go along with print ads and newsletters.
Social media’s role in business-to-business marketing is far subtler but just as vital. B2B content may not have the millions of page views that B2C counterparts get, but it addresses a higher-value, more deeply invested audience. Your audience is already knowledgeable about their industry; you don’t need to tell them their business. That leaves you free to focus your social media content on building awareness of you, establish thought leadership, build your brand and get that highly informed audience more engaged with what you have to say.
How is B2B Social Media Marketing Different?
B2C marketing is highly visible; most of it takes place on the surface. B2B marketing, by contrast, is an iceberg – you don’t see most of what happens, often intentionally. Businesses that have achieved and exceeded their goals don’t always broadcast that fact, especially if they’ve found a business content strategy that works. When you have a formula for turning lead into gold, you don’t share that alchemy with your competitors.
Another factor that makes B2C marketing more straightforward is that it targets end users. Customers at the open end of a long chain of buying decisions only have to decide for themselves if they want a product; for every B2B sale, buyers must consider others on either side of them in that chain. To make matters more complex, other people who have a say in the purchase may have different needs. While the buyer wants a fashionable line of dresses for a department store, the CFO might be more concerned with cost and the owner with quality workmanship.
You inevitably have a wider array of pain points to address in B2B social media marketing, but you also have a more invested audience, and that works to your advantage. B2B buyers respond well to “pull” marketing – they know their needs and actively seek ways to meet them. That’s why SEO content is vital for B2B marketing, and with the increasing influence social media has on SEO, it’s clear why you need to make a social media strategy part of your plan.
Using Social Media for B2B Marketing
Because your intended audience starts with a good understanding of your industry and is actively seeking a better solution to an issue they already have, you have a built-in advantage when marketing via social media. You don’t need to spend as much time with introducing your products and services or with getting your clientele up to speed. That means some social media channels are better than others for your marketing efforts.
Facebook and Twitter are useful all-around channels for both B2C and B2B marketing when you want to cast a wide net and heighten name recognition, but they’re just part of where your social media marketing team will focus its efforts. LinkedIn is currently the premier professional social network, and that gives you a wealth of B2B marketing opportunities. Frequently updating your LinkedIn profile, including rich content such as video and participating in discussion groups raises potential clients’ awareness of you and establishes you as a trusted industry leader
Google and other search engines increasingly rely on social media signals to gauge the worth of a site, so your social media presence feeds into your static site and blog. Because most of your clients are actively looking for solutions, you need a higher profile to ensure they find you first instead of your competitors.
Borrowing from B2C Social Media Marketing
Although you’re addressing a different and more industry-savvy audience, some elements of B2B marketing are little different from B2C campaigns. You may be speaking to knowledgeable people with a wider range of needs to meet, but you’re still speaking to people – and people listen when they find what you say engaging. You don’t have to be flashy, but your message does need to be clear, concise and direct.
Google is paying attention to social media, and so are your B2B customers; it’s vital to have something worth saying across all your social media channels.
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