Social media marketing is generally regarded as a promotional tool for marketers selling to the consumer, but that’s a view that could lead to those targeting other businesses missing a trick. Indeed, research has revealed that the use of social media can not only provide considerable clout to a campaign but could well turn out to be the most useful tool in the box. According to the same research by Omobono, 79% of those surveyed identified social media as the marketing route they found most effective, while a further 38% remarked that if they had additional budget for the following year, they would allocate it to social media.
The way it works
Unlike more traditional marketing disciplines, the effectiveness of social media marketing is based predominantly around the concept of building trust. Being aware that you are the object of a marketing drive is likely to make you to less receptive to it, whereas social media marketing is more about finding people with right knowledge who can deliver what they’ve promised. It feeds on common work-related questions such as: do I get on well with this person? Do they seem reliable? Could I work with them?
Where it works
Checking out a company online before deciding to do business with them is standard practice, and the direct route to that information is through the company’s website. The best way to get people to your website is via one of the many social media platforms now available to all.
It’s probably fair to say that Twitter and Linkedin are currently the most important avenues for generating sales interest. That’s because people are looking for specific answers to specific questions, so finding business conversations on popular social networks like Instagram and Facebook is less likely.
The mechanics of social media marketing to businesses differ markedly from those where the emphasis is on the consumer. While the desired end result of generating sales remains the same, it must be understood that social media is only one ingredient in the communication mix, whether it be online or offline. It isn’t the volume of connections that matter in social media channels, so much as the strength and depth of those connections.
B2C marketing is about catching people’s attention, and this is equally important for the B2B audience. However, their final destination should be your website, where they can find more information about what initially attracted them. An acceptable way of encouraging people to engage with your business, is to ask a question on social media that might generate interest from prospective customers.
Social media B2B marketing clearly requires an alternative mindset, and it can be hard to accept having less control over your immediate mission statement and how people are responding to it. So it’s key to remember that clients are also changing rapidly, and being at the forefront of that collective change rather than having to catch up with it later, is a positive and sensible approach.
Compliance and risk must also be taken into account, and your communication strategy, both offline and online, needs to be quickly and properly coordinated to ensure complete visibility. The last thing you want to do is cause damage to pre-existing relationships that have been built up over time.
Reaping the benefits
Marketing successfully to businesses using social media means putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. Understanding exactly what they want and where they are up to in their journey to purchase is critical. Are they are simply looking to see who’s in the market or have they narrowed it down to a small group of firms with the relevant expertise? This will allow you to position your company as one that fully appreciates the issues they are facing, that you ‘get it’, and are consequently the best people to help them.
In more practical terms, a key element to any marketing strategy is driving more traffic to your website, and providing a link on a social media post to a more informative article or blog on your web pages is a proven way to achieve this. If you’re adopting the role of experts, however, make sure the content on your website backs up your claim.
B2B social media marketing tips
Allow adequate time to formulate your strategy regarding social media, and amend your operational activity to best deliver that strategy.
The means of measuring the set business objectives need to be specific, so that the value of the work carried out can be properly assessed.
Before you engage, listen carefully to conversations already out there within your field of activity.
Identify the media channels that are the best fit for your audience, and take note of the prevailing behaviours, attitudes and relationships within those channels.
Be aware that some popular social media channels will not be right for your business.
Lastly, keep in mind that the only followers or fans you need are those with the potential to further your business.
This article was written by Martin O’Callaghan of Wood Flooring Ireland. In recent years, Martin has targeted potential B2B clients via Social Media with ads highlighting his popular products like Chevron flooring to great success.