Let’s face it: Facebook is the new Farmer’s Market. Every business wants to be there because every consumer is there. There are amazing things you can do with Facebook applications, community development, and engagement to help better brand your company and increase your social following of present and potential customers. On the other hand, when I recently spoke on a panel on social media for the agricultural industry in Japan, there was a watermelon grower who sold one of his watermelons simply through a conversation on his Page’s wall.
When we think of selling products or services to consumers on Facebook, it’s pretty intuitive for most businesses to figure out. It’s similar to putting up a lemonade stand near a strategic stop sign on the street where traffic must go through on its way to, or back from, the beach.
But what about social media marketing with regards to B2B, or businesses that are selling products and services not to consumers but to other companies? Will establishing a Facebook page for consumer-unfriendly (and sometimes downright unexciting!) products like cloud-based enterprise-level data recovery software services help in your company’s marketing efforts?
To those that have never had to sell a product to another business, B2B social media marketing seems counter-intuitive, and indeed it is still an extremely un-cultivated sphere in the realm of marketing. But considering the fact that businesses don’t buy services from other companies, but from people within those organizations, you begin to see the potential for adding social media to your B2B marketing mix.
While there are many things that B2B companies can be doing with regards to social media marketing, it begins with understanding that everyone is spending more time online both looking for information as well as communicating with others. Where sales professionals used to get phone calls asking for them to bring their engineers or product professionals to ask for a demonstration or more details, they are now bypassing that entire process by simply looking for that information online. Sure, some go to search engines, but others go to social media looking for information. Is your organization looking for these business opportunities?
With the above in mind, here are some immediate things your organization should be doing to bring social media into your B2B marketing strategy:
1) Add a Blog to Your Company Website
Every social media strategy that I create includes a blog, and it is more important for a B2B company to be blogging. Let’s face it: No one is reading the news releases that your company issues anymore. Yet more and more of your targeted users are going online, looking for information and even asking others in social media communities for their recommendations. Blogging – not about your products or information that can be found in a news release – but about issues that are facing your industry, unique ways in which your customers use your products to solve common issues, or even stories about your company’s history or culture – this content now gives your company a “social” voice that you can introduce into social conversations that are happening online. They also help more of your content get discovered by search engines through the undeniable benefits that blogging brings to your website’s search engine optimization (SEO).
2.) Build a Community through a LinkedIn Group
Most lemon stands are building out their Facebook Fan Pages. Savvy companies that are targeting other businesses are building up communities filled with industry players and decision makers where they dwell in social media: LinkedIn. Creating a LinkedIn Group is free, easy, offers robust management and moderation tools, and gives you a chance to create a unique industry community so that you can lead the conversation, become perceived as the thought leader in your industry, and indirectly “market” your company to the 150 million professionals that spend time on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is now the 12th most visited website in the world: Creating a LinkedIn Group is, like those radio adverts tell us, “The biggest no-brainer in the history of mankind!”
3.) Listen – and Engage
No one can control the conversations that happen in social media, and you also can’t expect that every conversation related to your industry will happen within your own digital properties. That’s why you need to implement a listening strategy as part of your B2B social media marketing efforts. In B2C brands, social media monitoring is used for reputation management: In B2B companies, it is used for business intelligence and business development opportunities. Engagement with other social media users can only help accelerate the B2B marketing opportunities that are ripe for the picking in social media.
How has your company found success in B2B social media marketing?