Don’t think that just because you’re a B2B company that you can get out of social media marketing. With 87 percent of B2B marketers on social media, you’re options are quite similar to the B2C world: get on social media or look as if you’re seriously lagging behind.
Fine, you say, you’ve won me over. Or even better: I’m already there. Now what? So many blog posts and tidbits of advice about social media marketing practices are perfectly applicable to the B2C world, but B2B is different, right? We can’t go around flaunting colorful promotions and tagging our Instagram photos with corny hashtags. How are we supposed to provide enough information about our product in that tiny Twitter bio? Pinterest … you’re joking, right?
These are relevant questions, but they’re a little misguided. It’s first important to realize the why of social media marketing, and then you can move on to the how.
Why should B2B companies be on social media?
As I’m sure you’re aware, B2B marketing is almost entirely about information. Facts and figures back up why you’re the best company. Product recommendations from reputable sources can be used to show potential customers how great of a business you are. You’re marketing to the C-suite, not the average middle-class American. Emotional buying is not as common in your world.
Essentially, you could boil down all of your marketing into one goal: You have to look like you know what you’re talking about so that you can relate to your potential buyers in a language they understand.
In social media this means demonstrating thought leadership. Expertise. Knowledge. Proficiency. Whatever you want to call it, it means the same thing. Good marketers use “Show don’t Tell” tactics to spread the word about their product, in both B2C and B2B marketing. I’m sure you already do this; it’s better to show an interested customer all those facts, figures and reviews rather than to simply tell him or her that you’ve got a great product on your hands.
Social media is your place to show that you’re an expert in your field. Your website is a great place to highlight the spectacular products you offer, but it’s not the place to show that you’re keeping up with your industry or that you have unique insights on a specific topic. It’s potentially a place to list customer reviews, but I personally find those “What our customers are saying about us” pages a little cheesy. Why not just let social media do the work for you? LinkedIn discussions and tweets look much less contrived than listing out praise on a well-controlled website page.
How can I attract an audience on social media?
So then, what exactly am I supposed to be doing to get my customers’ attention? The big images, the Twitter chats, the cute taglines, isn’t all of that is B2C?
Not really. Yes, it’s definitely “B2C stuff,” but the same tactics can be applied to B2B marketing as well.
Facebook news feeds have long favored images over text. Twitter recently changed its timeline so that photos and pictures show up much larger than before. A blog post is more readable when a photo is next to the title than if the entire page is just text. The Internet is a very visual world, and you should follow suit. And honestly, images aren’t that hard to create. If you’re a software company, take screenshots of your product in use (See Quickbooks, Hubspot or any number of other tech companies as an example). Other B2B companies with excellent images include GlaxoSmithKline, Deloitte and General Electric. Note that the images don’t always connect back to a product, but each one clearly illustrates what the business is about. Deloitte, for example, has a lot of photos of consultants hard at work, implying that its customers will receive the best effort possible.
This could also read “social media conversations.” One of the greatest benefits social media offers is unrestricted, direct access to your customers. There are no gatekeepers. There’s no media to get in the way, filtering out your message. Why not start discussions on your social channels? LinkedIn, one of the best social media platforms for B2B businesses, can host group discussions. Twitter chats (yes, the ones that include a chat-specific hashtag) can connect you with your audience to show off your expertise. Google Plus hangouts can be recorded and make great content for YouTube videos or web seminars. While your blogs and YouTube videos allow you to monologue your expertise to your audience, the real-time engagement of discussion takes it to the next level.
Okay, this title is a stretch, but speaking of blog posts and YouTube videos, I think it’s appropriate to mention that you’ll do a good deal of writing as a B2B social media marketer. You probably won’t be creating taglines or jingles, but blog posts and YouTube videos are an excellent way to show how a product works or to show the inspiration behind a product. Remember that when you’re writing these, you’re seeking to inform your audience, and not sell your stuff. Make sure that you are not writing advertisements; show off the fact that you’re an expert and the inquiring customers will come – which takes us back to point number two.
I hope I’ve demonstrate that B2C and B2B marketing aren’t that different on social media. The content may be different, but the strategy and reasons for being on social media in the first place are the same.
Show off how great your product is, keeping the interests of your audience in mind, so that you don’t bore them or annoy them with advertisements. People are inclined to listen to what you have to say when you cater to them. Social media allows for direct access to potential buyers, so you’ll be a step closer to the crucial connection.