Note: Business Exchange has been shut down and therefore is no longer mentioned in this post.
While everyone knows that Facebook is the default choice for any business-to-consumer (B2C) social media marketing, what social media channels are important for businesses hoping to engage with other businesses (B2B)? How can these types of businesses use social media to engage with their potential clients, gain mindshare and be perceived as a thought leader in their industry, and increase potential clients visiting their website? Here are the six that I would recommend to most businesses. Note that, in order to create a sound social media strategy, you should not limit yourself to these 6 B2B social media channels and should also make sure that each site is appropriate for your particular industry. Creating a social media strategy is about strategic relevance and focus, not comprehensiveness.
1) Your Website & Blog
What most people forget is that social media does not exist in a corporate vacuum and it is only an extension of your marketing, not a replacement. You will still be doing email marketing as well as other types of traditional marketing, although I do know some start-ups who are putting their marketing budgets solely into social media. Regardless, you need to lead people somewhere from the conversations in social media to acquaint them with your business and start engaging in a conversation that will hopefully lead to a conversion in the future. This is why your website is even more important with the advent of social media, and you need to make sure that your website is “social media optimized” to lead others to your social media profiles as well as to help others share your information throughout their social media channels. Finally, another important part of social media is sharing content, and creating a blog is the best way to achieve this. Make sure your blog is active and website optimized before engaging in social media. So before you get active on the other sites listed below, get your own house in order.
2) LinkedIn – Your Hub for B2B Social Media Marketing
If there is one site where decision makers at your potential customers are it is LinkedIn. Need I say more? And if you signed up for LinkedIn and nothing happened, make sure you check out the book I wrote to help all professionals maximize your LinkedIn presence. You can also read my previous blog post on how to get more leads from your LinkedIn presence by avoiding the mistakes that a lot of small businesses make. Don’t wait for LinkedIn to happen…make it happen!
3) Twitter – The Potential Viral Spread of Tweets Cannot Be Ignored
There are enough business leaders and decision makers from virtually any industry on Twitter to warrant its attention. Twitter membership is now 50% greater than LinkedIn. Add in the facts that a Twitter Profile is now almost becoming a default part of a LinkedIn Profile as well as understanding the viral way in which tweets on Twitter get spread and you soon start to see the potential of utilizing Twitter as part of a B2B social media marketing strategy. I am currently working on my 2nd book which will help you and your business maximize your Twitter presence, but until that’s published, check out my Twitter case study of how NOT to use Twitter. Stay tuned for more good Twitter blog posts for business in the near future! And remember, Twitter is not just about tweeting…it’s about engaging, striking up and joining conversations, and respecting others. But if you engage wisely, Twitter may lead your next customer your way.
4) StumbleUpon – Traffic Generating Community
Part of utilizing social media is to help your company and website to get found. If you are a consumer brand this is easier to do, but niche B2B businesses can be challenged just to drive any traffic to their website. StumbleUpon is actually a lesser known social bookmarking site, but because of its algorithm and 10+ million users who like to “stumble” or navigate through several sites at at time, some studies have shown that StumbleUpon actually attracts more traffic to your website than any other social media site outside of Facebook. My personal experience with StumbleUpon has been the same, even surpassing Facebook. It is important to note, however, that StumbleUpon should not be used just for SEO and it is a social networking platform in its own. In addition, because you will need to be sharing content as part of your social media strategy, think of StumbleUpon as your company’s content recommendation engine. You may not find your Fortune 500 customers on StumbleUpon yet, but I do see an increase in small businesses joining the platform…and there are other compelling reasons listed above that should convince you of SU’s value. Once you get set up on StumbleUpon, make sure to subscribe to my stumbles for recommend reads on social media strategy.
5) SlideShare – Present Your Business to the World
My newest fave is SlideShare, which in essence is a site of professionals and businesses uploading their PowerPoint presentations. SlideShare in itself is one of the top 1,000 most visited sites on the Internet according to Compete.com, and it’s traffic is equivalent to more famous sites such as the social bookmarking site Delicious.com. SlideShare is significant for businesses because this is where other businesses are putting up their presentations, so just as you Google the Internet for information, many businesses and decision makers are coming straight to SlideShare to look for relevant information to help them solve their business problems. Business usage of SlideShare is increasing to the point where SlideShare rolled out advertising services to allow businesses to get more views of their presentations as well as generate actual lead data from views. Start with your corporate presentation and then upload your marketing presentations and see what happens. You may be in for a pleasant surprise!
B2B social media marketing is like anything else social media-related: new tools, old rules. Business has always been social. You just need to find where your audience is and get used to a new paradigm where you professionally network with others and try to gain mindshare in a virtual, online world. That is, in a nutshell, B2B social media marketing.
Any other sites that you would recommend to add to this list? Please chime in!
And if you’re confused with all of the choices out there and unsure as to how to go about strategizing for your company’s specific B2B social media marketing needs, contact Windmills Marketing for a free initial consultation.