B2B and B2C have distinct differences. These distinct differences call for different approaches in B2B marketing. That goes for social media in particular.
Most notably, buy decisions take much longer in the B2B market. B2B buy decisions involve more than one decision maker or influencer. Other reasons affecting buy decisions are the complexity of the product or service and the cost.
Take, for example, contracting for logistics services. It would require a fluid and seamless supply chain that might include a combination of land, air, sea transportation. Clearly, complexity leads to increased cost.
B2B marketing relies heavily on data-based decisions. And that carries over into its marketing approach. Return on investment plays a bigger role in the B2B marketing strategy. Again, that makes sense due to the complexity and cost of B2B products and services. Therefore, many B2B marketers tend to avoid social media because of their limited focus on data.
But that’s not a wise strategy. Instead, B2B marketers should employ social media, just not in the same way as B2C marketers. It should complement and supplement existing tactics to reinforce your marketing goals.
This article shows how B2B businesses can adapt social media to and improve their overall marketing strategy.
#1 Begin With The End In Mind
Before launching into the social media jungle, B2B marketers must first examine their overall marketing strategy. As Steven Covey said, “… begin with the end in mind”.
That said, start with selecting a platform. Certain platforms lend themselves more to B2B than B2C. The most popular platforms that work for B2C don’t get the same results in B2B. For example, in a recent industry survey, only 29% of marketers found Facebook to be effective in their marketing.
Questions to consider about engagement:
• Which form of marketing best suits explanation of our products or service? Display, voice, video?
• Should you target key decision makers or tailor your social media campaign to all influencers?
• Where in the buying process does social fit best?
#2 Follow the Trend: What Platforms Do B2B Marketers Plan to Use?
LinkedIn is known as the go-to social platform for business. According to a 2013 Social Media Marketing Report by Social Media Examiner, 72% of B2B marketers expect to make more use of LinkedIn, compared to only 54% of B2C marketers. Obviously, as a B2B marketer you not only want a presence on LinkedIn, you also want to market there prominently.
In the same report, marketers cites blogging as a mainstay of social media marketing, especially in B2B. And 71% of B2B marketers say they intend to increase their use of blogging.
Google + is another growing media platform preferred by B2B marketers. Fifty-seven percent of B2B marketers plan to increase their marketing with Google+ in the future.
#3 Collect Invaluable Market Intelligence
By interacting socially on various platforms, B2B marketers gain valuable information about prospects’ and customers’ likes, dislikes, and emerging trends. Blogging is probably the best means of gaining this type of market intelligence. But other platforms also offer opportunities to help you understand your potential customer better.
Social media allows you to discover what your prospects and clients alike are saying. It lets you know what keeps them up at night. And you can see how they express themselves by noting the language they use. Include all these elements in your social media campaign you’ll engage your prospects and clients because what you say resonates with them
Social Media for B2B
It may seem like yet another task to do in marketing your products and services. But don’t worry. You don’t have to invest much time. You can realize the benefits by investing as little as 6 hours/week.
That’s right. Social media has a reputation for being a time-intensive activity, but the truth is that you’ll realize results with a small amount of time. More importantly, you should fit your social media campaign in to your overall strategy rather than setting an arbitrary number of hours aside for social media.
B2B marketers stand to gain benefits from engaging their prospect and customer – much like their B2C peers.
By Brianna Albertson