How Does Social Media Marketing Affect B2B Businesses?
Social media provides an excellent platform for marketing efforts, helping drive user engagement and acquire leads. Plus, 92% of B2B marketers utilize social media in their marketing efforts. As a result, marketers who do not embrace social media tend to fall behind the competition regarding reach and exposure.
Although many perceive social media outreach as more suitable for business-to-community (B2C) outreach, the proliferation of businesses on social media has narrowed the divide between B2C and B2B. Social media aids tremendously in connecting with both consumers and other businesses. Seven strong social media strategies a company should incorporate into its marketing efforts include the following.
1. Customer Engagement
Customers prefer a personal touch, which social media can accomplish. For B2B sales, clients value a business's knack for human connection. Social media is capable of showing the human connection for a brand in action. For example, a client with influence on a B2B relationship can view a business's social media page and see how it interacts with its customers. Is it overly defensive and rash in response to a customer complaint, or is it respectful and professional?
For example, IBM’s Twitter account does a great job of showcasing excellent customer service skills, as well as emphasizing their positive working climate. As the picture above shows, they take the time to thank former employees and collaborators, while simultaneously showcasing the original tweet’s complementary content.
For B2B relationships, businesses interested in partnering with IBM will be confident in how consumers and employees alike perceive the relationship, largely due to how IBM responds to customers and former employees alike. With tweets like the one above, IBM shows itself as a business that hires employees who are passionate and dedicated, which is a great thing for any business looking to partner or purchase with them.
2. Content Promotion
Social media platforms make sharing any type of media easy, from photos and copy to live video. Businesses can use multimedia on social media to humanize their operations, particularly by showing the inner workings of their business and personally introducing employees. “Meeting the team” shows a more personal brand vision to those following on social media.
Heyo, with a simple Facebook post, shows its team is closely connected and certainly not office drones. Reminding followers and fellow businesses alike that there are real people behind a brand helps enforce relatability and trust, which are hugely important attributes of a successful marketing campaign.
Heyo also uses social media to interact with other businesses, such as when it posts thank you’s to sites like Social Sprinters for including it among the best Facebook page apps. The post reinforces Heyo’s effectiveness as a platform while also legitimizing Social Sprinters, providing a mutually beneficial point of exposure.
3. Expertise in Action
Consumers and businesses share the notion they prefer to engage with experts in their field. Consumers want to purchase a reliable product from people who know what they’re doing, while companies want to do business with the best in their field.
Social media allows business to showcase their expertise and knowledge naturally. General Electric's marketing campaigns often incorporate the impressive knowledge and expertise of its employees, with commercials depicting how an interest in science grows into a career that helps people throughout the world.
On social media, General Electric frequently responds to commenters, providing advice or asking questions, always responding with articulate insight with scientific backing. Their responses resonate with anyone who questions General Electric's expertise, firmly planting the business as experts in its niche.
4. Partner Showcasing
Businesses with substantial social media followings that, importantly, show a pattern of engagement are attractive to potential partners, who can see the potential of social media cross-promotion. The reach of social media helps to amplify news of collaborations and partnerships, bolstering the reputation of both parties.
The partner showcasing can range from very direct forms of media, like a video or photo emphasizing the collaboration, to a re-tweet or re-post. Plus, engaging with partners on social media helps enforce that a collaboration goes well beyond the financials, with expertise and a common drive for knowledge and bettering the world being on display.
5. Fingers on the Pulse of Trends
Naturally, trends come and go, making it difficult to keep up. Social media makes following and incorporating them into marketing easier, especially with Twitter's "Trending" list and Facebook's news integration. By staying up-to-date on the knowledge of incoming and outgoing trends, a business can show it is on the cutting edge of its industry while constantly providing fresh and relevant content that engages audiences and business partners alike.
6. Competition Monitoring
Social media also provides a non-obtrusive method to monitor competition, so businesses are aware of marketing and outreach strategies they employ. Whether or not a company chooses to adopt a competitor's method or modify it to their audiences is up to them, though ultimately social media listening is a great way to differentiate:
- If you see a competitor that shares your target audience already latch onto a particular news piece or story, it may be best to pursue a different story or strategy
- A shared target audience may perceive one of the businesses as late to the party and, therefore, behind the curve.
7. A Natural Idea Funnel
Good social media marketing tends to result in a natural funnel of ideas, with awareness via social media content resulting in repeat visibility and engagement, with those fans and followers culminating in sales.
B2B relationships naturally foster an idea funnel through expansion of an audience. For example, FedEx and the NFL partner in cross-tweets, with NFL player awards given via FedEx’s Twitter. FedEx's decision to incorporate NFL content into its social media expands its awareness due to an expansion in the audience to NFL fans. FedEx and the NFL interacting on Twitter is mutually beneficial for both in widening their brands' reaches.
Social media marketing can positively impact a business’s B2B effectiveness and desirability, with a more expansive audience reach resulting in more sales and overall recognition.