While B2C companies use social networking for a variety of purposes, B2B marketers often wonder if simply having a basic company website is good enough; isn’t social media more suited for B2C interactions?
Data from Forrester research indicates otherwise. According to a recent eMarketer study, Forrester Research predicts that B2B firms will spend $54 million on social media marketing in 2014, up from just $11 million in 2009. As more and more B2B companies understand the benefits of social media, the use of networking tools for marketing purposes is steadily increasing. As a B2B marketing professional, here are some reasons why your company should have more than a just a website:
* B2B company websites that are not backed by social media may appear like brochures; this could put-off prospects, resulting in lost sales and opportunity for companies.
* Social media is where your contacts are; therefore you need to have more than a static web presence in your company wants to stay competitive online.
* Recent studies show that most industrial buyers use social media to research buying decisions.
* Marketing is all about being customer-centric and involves interactive information sharing.
* Besides acquiring new customers, social media can drive traffic to the existing company website and can convert prospects and customers into ‘brand advocates’.
Getting the Most Out of Social Media; Do I Tweet, Blog or Post?
Do I Tweet, Blog or Post? Before engaging in social media, it is vital for B2B companies to figure out what tools are most suitable and likely to offer maximum returns. Although there are numerous tools out there, each with its benefits and limitations, the general consensus is that LinkedIn is an excellent networking tool and the most popular choice for B2B companies. The fact that 72% of B2B marketers currently use LinkedIn makes this tool the undisputed king of social media marketing for business purposes. According to a recent study by the B2B magazine:
* LinkedIn was cited as the most important channel, with 26% marketers favoring it.
* Lead-generation was the main reason why companies used LinkedIn. Other advantages include generating web traffic, building influential business relationships and for recruitment purposes.
However, other channels also have their advantages. Our research shows how B2B companies can use other social networking channels (besides LinkedIn) to add value to their businesses:
* Facebook Can Be Useful Too:
Does Facebook benefit B2B companies? Absolutely! With 71% B2B marketers favoring Facebook, this is the second most widely used social media platform after LinkedIn. By having a Facebook presence, you can:
o Generate Quality Leads: Yes, like LinkedIn, Facebook can also help generate quality leads that could later transition into sales. Oracle Facebook PageWhen business contacts check out your company’s Facebook page, chances are that they are either looking for information or are interested in purchasing your product or service. By presenting them with free trials or special offers on Facebook, you can convert ‘prospective customers’ to ‘buyers’.
o Build Brand Advocates: Facebook is a great platform for business communities to come together and share positive experiences. Oracle’s fan page, for instance, features valuable professional content, news and discussions. The +107,640 happy fans engaged with the company’s products and services function as the ideal brand advocates for Oracle.
o Publishing Research Findings & Studies: In addition to promoting its events, Gartner also publishes whitepapers and research material on its Facebook page.
* Winning with Twitter:
Although the B2B industry continues to be skeptical of twitter, this networking channel does have certain advantages. Here are some interesting case studies that show how B2B companies are ‘winning’ with Twitter:
o IBM: The company’s @ibmevents Twitter account is a huge success. This account allows clients and customers to connect via a ‘back channel’, enabling them to participate in an event remotely. These ‘events’ include company presentations and webinars.
o Capgemini: Capgemini uses Twitter to communicate with alliance partners, clients, employees and most importantly, for keeping a check on competitors.
What makes Twitter the #3 social media tool for B2B marketers is its simplicity, which provides marketers with a wide range of options on how to use it. In addition to the benefits discussed above, having a Twitter account also helps B2B companies share research data, publish PR material, facilitates employee interaction and serves as a great customer service platform.
* Blogs, Videos and the Other Social Media Tools:
While B2B companies rely heavily on popular channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, the use of other social media tools such as blogs and videos is also on the rise. The 2011 Social Media Examiner Report shows that:
o Besides LinkedIn, B2B companies are utilizing blogs and videos more than ever.
o 73% B2B companies use blogs, compared to B2C companies, whose blogs usage is 63%.
As a B2B marketer, if one or more of the following are your primary objectives, then blogs could be the ideal social media marketing tool for you; a) show the human side of your organization b) brand building c) customer demand and generation (more blog content=more customers generated) and d) creation of educational and not promotional content.
When IBM created their blog, the company capitalized on the intelligence of their employees to give consumers insight into what happens behind the scenes. By giving a voice to the industry experts they hired, IBM was able to highlight the people behind their products, showing the human side of the company. youtube social shares