B2B businesses can benefit from social media just as much as their B2C counterparts. However, whereas many B2C companies have nailed their social media campaigns, a fair number of B2B companies are still lagging behind. Why?
One reason is that B2B businesses may believe that their wares are not suitable for social media marketing. After all, the majority of social media activity is often considered is a private affair, with users using platforms to communicate with their friends, family, and loved ones.
Previously, there may have been some justification for such a point of view. However, nowadays the truth is that many people use social media whilst they’re at work, and many even use it to communicate with business contacts as well as personal ones. In short, as social media has become a more popular way for people to communicate, people are using it to communicate with all of their contacts – and this includes business ones.
Of course, sites like LinkedIn have been business orientated from the get-go. However, now, having a presence on LinkedIn and other business-specific social media sites may not be enough – you may be surprised how many business meetings, conversations, and even deals are set-up using Facebook or similar! So, by failing to create and maintain a decent cross-platform social media presence, many B2B businesses may be doing themselves a huge disservice.
But this is not to say that B2B companies should use social media in exactly the same way as their B2B coevals. In fact, while many B2C companies are using social media to talk to consumers in a more friendly and informal way, B2B companies will likely see the best results if they maintain a more professional approach. This is because those visiting B2B social media pages will, more often than not, do so in a professional capacity, unlike B2C visitors – who are visiting simply as themselves. It’s important, therefore, that all social media communication is done consistently and in the right tone.
Another focus for B2B companies wishing to make the most of social media marketing is correct monitoring. And it’s important that these businesses do not get sucked into focusing on vanity metrics.
A vanity metric is a metric which, as it improves, may make social media managers feel like real progress is being taking place, but in actual fact may not be related to the business objectives of their social media campaign. Some common examples are “likes”, page views, shares, followers, downloads, etc. While watching these metrics improve is a pleasant and fun experience, none of them make money. And that, after all, is why you wanted to use social media marketing in the first place.
Of course, improving vanity metrics is a good thing; but you also need to focus on actionable metrics. An actionable metric is one that is tied with your business objectives – making money and increasing sales. Monitoring actionable metrics will take a bit more work on your part, but it’s worth it.
The king of actionable metrics is the A/B split test. For example, imagine you send out one sales post to followers in one geographical area and another to followers in another geographical area. You keep the proposition the same, but you alter the format and tone of the post for each area. You send the posts out on different days, and monitor traffic to your site as well as the number of conversions. This allows you to see which post performed better, and therefore give you a good idea of what type of posts will do well in the future. By repeating this process numerous times, every sales post you send out will be optimized to your audience.
Customer Service via Social Media
B2B businesses should also use social media to improve their customer service levels. Many B2C businesses have got this down, and use Facebook and Twitter as the primary place where customers can ask questions, give feedback, and make complaints. So long as you keep up with it, you will be able to deal with any issues that come up immediately and thoroughly. This will not only keep your customers happy, but also improve the amount of positive online ratings and reviews you receive and boost your online presence in a broad sense.
In the business world, people expected to be treated as individuals, and 1:1 correspondence is crucial. Social media sites make just this type of correspondence easy. By ensuring that each customer deals with the same person throughout their communication with your organization, you will make them feel more important and better looked after.
Another important benefit of social media marketing (and of using social media in general) are the social listening and relationship management opportunities it provides. Once you’ve built up a large online following you will be able to monitor who engages with you most frequently, who your most receptive customers are, and who the biggest influencers are in your following. The latter group is particularly important since influencers (or people that have a lot of sway on social media themselves) can be used to further your brand. For example, if a well-known business man or respected reviewer follows you, you can ask them for a testimonial or offer them a product to trial and review. If the influencer likes you and your company (which they likely do since they’re already following you) you may benefit from them sharing their positive experience to their own followers and, in doing so, enhance your brand.
Now, all of this may be making your head-spin. And it may sound like an awful lot of work – in a way it is. However, like most things, the first steps are the hardest. And, like most things, there are things you can do to make your life easier. Probably the single most important thing you can do to make all of this more manageable is to use a social media management tool. These tools allow you to aggregate your social media streams, respond to messages from different networks in one place, plan and automate your campaigns, monitor relevant metrics, and much more.
There are a lot of social media management tools out there. And some may be better for your needs than others. This infographic shows the top four rated social media management tools (Hootsuite, AgoraPulse, Sprout Social, and Sendible) of 2015, and explains when they’re most appropriate.
I hope you’ve found this article motivating. B2B businesses which take the social media horse by the reins now will now can expect to experience a significant competitive advantage. But you need to move quickly!
Have any questions? Let me know with a comment.