The Impact Of Social Media On Society & Business: What This Means For Your B2B Brand
Social media has developed quickly and is changing the way that people interact with information and communicate. While most companies will recognise social media's importance for B2C (Business to Consumer) marketing, the B2B (Business to Business) market still remains relatively underdeveloped.
This is not a surprise, given the self-image that many B2B companies have.
It is hard to get excited about an adhesives company, even if it is yours. And this is emblematic of the issues that the B2B sector has when using social media.
Another issue is the approach that B2B companies take to promotions. When a business services company looks to promote themselves on social media, they look at it solely as a means to generate leads.
This is not the right approach when it comes to social media at all.
There are some very simple things that a company that operates in the B2B sector can do to accelerate their social media presence. The key is looking at the equation a little differently.
Who Are You on Social Media?
One of the reasons that B2C companies historically had a much easier time using social media is that marketing to consumers relies on building up a brand image. If you think about it, there are very few products that are really “cool”.
When it comes to marketing products like cosmetics or beverages, companies figured out a long time ago that creating an identity matters.
Cola isn't a very interesting thing, but when you create an image around a brand it becomes far more appealing.
What is important is that a company uses images and media to create associations within the consumer market for their brand.
This kind of marketing is not nearly as common in the B2B sector. So when it comes to using social media, it is no surprise that B2B companies sometimes struggle.
So the first thing a B2B company needs to do is find interesting things that it is involved with.
An industrial concrete company is pretty boring, no?
Every business has interesting aspects and creates a valuable solution for its customers. This in itself is exciting. If you are bringing a concrete company to social media, you would want to look for interesting projects that it is involved with.
No one on twitter cares about how many square meters of concrete your new trucks can pump an hour.
But many people will care about foundation for the new children's hospital that the concrete is being pumped into. And business customers will take note too.
See the difference?
What is important is that people can identify something they care about with your company. It’s not what your company does that is important, it is the changes it makes possible. This is just as relevant for down to earth impacts, such as the savings you offer to a customer’s supply chain, as it is for grand gestures.
For the example above, the social media director for the concrete company would make sure that any interesting projects were all over Twitter, Facebook and any other social media outlet they could find.
With social media leads are not your direct goal, building up an identity is. With relevant branding established you will be in a better position to use social media as a lead generation tool.
You want your B2B company to be known, and for people to make positive associations when they think about your business.
This means that trying to use marketing strategies that seek direct sales will be a waste of time in the social media sphere.
Keeping your business relevant is all about creating a persona. People need to feel something when they think about “Cornsworth Concrete Ltd”. They need to think of a problem solved.
In the world of social media identity comes first, and from that identity the leads are created.
One of the biggest mistakes that companies in the B2B sector make is treating social media as an afterthought.
You may be lucky enough to be able to hire a social media marketing team in house, although not many SMEs are in that position. So you need to find an alternative means of maintaining a presence in the social media sphere.
Bringing in a marketing company like JDR is a good idea, as the B2B sector is really starting to figure out how important social media is. Even if you have a marketing person in house already, fresh ideas and a different view-point can really help you to widen your appeal – and having an agency on side massively increases your impact.
Building up an identity on social media is a full time job, and keeps your company in the public eye.
It can be hard to grasp, but in many ways social media is like free advertising that your network does on your behalf. But you have to give them interesting and relevant content to work with and share.
In the world before social media, it was rare that people would take your hard copy adverts and send them around to their suppliers and colleagues. But that is exactly the environment social media creates.
If you can build up an image that prospects can relate to, and provide them with content that they want to share, you will be the first brand they think of when looking for a solution.
That is where the leads come from. It also will help your conversion rate to rise. People are far more likely to buy from you if they know and feel positive about your company.
Working with an agency that is experienced with B2B marketing can save you from wasting time, and give you the advantage of their experience.
Just because social media branding is new to the world of B2B marketing, it doesn't mean that your company has to struggle with it.
Many of the same ideas that apply to B2C marketing will help you along, and give your team the tools they need to expand your business with new customers. We can help you with this, so please get in touch with one of our advisers for an informal chat.
Get Out There
With the B2B sector waking up to the power of social media, starting to build up your presence is important. Putting together an actionable marketing strategy is vital to maintaining your competitive edge.
Unlike traditional forms of marketing, the mediums are basically free. But it is up to you to figure out how to make your company relevant to the lives of social media users. This takes an investment in time and resources.
Given the right approach and social media identity, your company will benefit from the way people are communicating now.