Sometimes it seems like the consumer marketing folks have all the fun. They get the edgy campaigns, giant marketing budgets and freedom to bask in the social media spotlight while B2B marketers are stuck talking about features and ROI.
But wait…there’s proof that B2C marketers aren’t the only ones enjoying the branding benefits of social media. In fact, there are some real winners in the B2B space this year, and they deserve a look.
Rather than showcasing major social media businesses or app providers (we all expect them to be good), I’ve picked firms from industries you might not expect to embrace social media.
These companies don’t necessarily have the most popular posts on the net, but they’re working hard to integrate social media into their B2B marketing, and they’re doing it well.
These fearless brands have overcome internal reluctance to adopt social media, successfully elevating brand awareness for their B2B companies. There are lessons here for anyone fighting with executives who believe social media can’t work for B2B branding.
Show them these examples and make your case:
GE is one of the most elegant examples of B2B branding that I’ve seen. Starting right on their home page you can see how GE has integrated social media throughout their online presence. From questions on Quora to photos on Instagram, GE is covering all the social media bases.
One of my favorites, GE has published a compelling series of videos on YouTube that are eminently sharable via social media. These aren’t your typical “cross you fingers and hope it ‘goes viral’ ” videos.
Instead, each video educates viewers on aspects of the GE product set, building brand comprehension, awareness and affinity. Check out the Juice Train and Darius is Still Playing Baseball for two great examples.
Siemens – The folks at Siemens are having fun celebrating employees while promoting a global brand through social media. The firm has racked up over 6 million (yes, million) video views on their YouTube channel, and routinely garners several hundred Likes on new Facebook posts.
From “Proud to Be Siemens” employee recognition to participation in FutuRide – a project to break the Guinness World Record for “Most electrical energy generated by pedaling on bicycles in one hour,” Siemens social media branding is active and engaging.
ARAMARK – Wrangling the needs and priorities of a distributed organization can be a real challenge, even without social media in the mix. ARAMARK has over 250,000 employees scattered across the globe providing managed services including food, uniforms and facilities to airlines, hospitals, schools and sporting venues.
Connecting these front line employees to the brand and the brand to corporate buyers is a tall order. The company uses its social media resources to highlight employee participation in community programs, putting a personal touch on the mammoth brand. ARAMARK also spotlights its products with Facebook photos of items like the Chicken Florentine Nachos offered at Paul Brown Stadium recently. (mmm!)
Caterpillar – For an industrial company that launched its first products in 1925, Caterpillar is the kind of business that could easily write off social media as “not a good fit.” Instead, they committed themselves to social media a couple of years back and are busy building a community.
With 27,000 Twitter followers and 129,000 Facebook likes, CAT certainly has its social media fans. The company promotes engagement among customers and cultivates advocates for its varied product lines with presence on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, blogs and YouTube.
Caterpillar also hosts a number of online discussion forums, giving the audience a platform to connect and share. Of course, I’d love to see them on Pinterest, too. One dealer, Carter Machinery, is already there.
All of these firms have room for improvement in certain areas – from expanding beyond Facebook and Twitter to fully engaging contacts in appropriate dialog. Social media is a journey and the key for B2B brands is to jump on the ride and learn along the way.
Which business to business brands do you think are winning the social media game? Let me know who you think deserves a pat of the back for masterful use of social media in B2B branding this year.