As interest and use of social media tools gains popularity in the business to business sector (B2B), many companies find themselves wanting to get in on the game without knowing where to begin. Here are 4 fundamental ideas that should be considered when implementing social media tools into B2B marketing strategies.
1. Identify Your Audience
The most important part of integrating social media tools into your marketing plan is to figure out who your targeted audience is. Taking this crucial step ensures that your social media following is one that will benefit your company. These are the questions you need to ask yourself before starting anything else. Who are those people that you are trying to reach through social media platforms? Do they have any presence online? If yes, where? What are they talking about? If not, then how to engage them into participating in your conversation?
Types of Audiences to Consider
- Existing Customers
They already use your product or service, have comments about it, questions and problems that need to be solved. Great base to begin with!
- Future Customers
People who will drive your business further. Think of how you can captivate their attention online and what social media platforms are more convenient for them.
- Lost Accounts
Somehow you neglected their needs. Analyze what the problem was about and show that you care. Social media gives you a perfect opportunity to reconnect with your former customer.
- Industry Experts
Share your opinion and experience with other B2B professionals in your business field. Feel free to give some advise or recommendations if needed and ask questions yourself.
- Media Outlets
A lot of times journalists are looking for an interesting material to write about on social media web sites. Developing unique and authentic content about products and services your company offers as well as industry news would help you to attract their attention.
- End Consumers
Less popular category for B2B companies. However, it opens a way to discover potentially new information about your product, gives you direct feedback from the end users and chances to test the latest ideas.
2. Give Your Employees Access To Social Media Tools
Here is a problem: there are too many internet restrictions in the B2B working space. A 2009 survey conducted by GlobalSpec, Inc. shows that 35% of industrial companies are blocking certain websites and access to the different types of content. 70% of respondents can not use Facebook at work, and 66% are unable to visit YouTube and Twitter.
Let’s face it, with today’s technology it is virtually impossible to keep your employees off of social media sites all day long. Smart phones and tablet PC’s enable employees to reach their intended destination whether you like it or not. Instead of trying to fight the urge of your employees to reach out and connect online, why not embrace their desire to connect in a way that benefits your business.
Benefits of giving access to social media tools to your employees.
- Companies become more personal, human and open to new forms of collaboration.
- Employees build strong relationships with their partners and customers in very informal and genuine ways allowing them to relate to each other.
- Social media helps you to increase your presence online by creating social media business accounts for each employee separate from your company’s account.
After all, if you treat your employees like adults they will act like adults!
3. Become An Industry Expert
One of the greatest things about social media for the B2B sector is a chance to present yourself as an expert in your business niche.
Here are some great ways of providing your expertise and giving your audience valuable information through social media.
- Blog about the latest innovations in your industry and what your company does to stay on top of these changes.
- Give your customers tips on Twitter about how to use your product.
- Post pictures of new hi-tech equipment that your company just purchased on Flickr and Facebook.
- Video blogging is a great way of sharing useful but entertaining videos that demonstrate interesting facts about your products/services and at the same time increase awareness of your brand. Look at how DuPont did it!
4. Be Consistent In Updating Your Social Media Accounts
So now your hooked, you’ve opened up your firewalls, signed up on all the social media sites you can find and your thinking to yourself: What now? Now you need to keep up with your presence online and engage your audience on a regular basis. The best way to do this is to be prepared before you even start.
- Pace yourself when signing up for social media tools. Start with a tool that seems beneficial to your company and get comfortable using it before you add another account.
- Set a schedule of updating and monitoring your social media accounts.
- Make a habit of creating a list of tweets for the next month in advance.
- Have several blog posts ready and maintain a list of future subjects to write about.
- Create your company’s own videos and pictures for future blog posts instead of using generic ones from the internet.
- Monitor your online presence regularly.
- Participate in conversations on other blogs.
- React on comments immediately and follow up.
The results and benefits of using social media in the B2B sector might not appear as fast as they do for consumer oriented companies. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in one day, but unlike Rome Social Media is sure to dominate for a long time to come. Continue your social media interaction and update your web accounts frequently. As the B2B sector catches up with the advantages social media has to offer, be sure you and your company are in the game and ahead of the curve.