Social media started as a peer-to-peer connection tool – it was something people used to stay in touch, post photos, and share news and events. In the beginning, it was a channel used among friends and colleagues, like any other social venue.
Within a year or two of the social media explosion, corporations began to see the value in social media outside of conversations between peers, and they leveraged these concentrated cyber venues to connect with their customers, validate their brand, and sell their products.
The business tactics worked – and millions of people began to interact with these companies, posting on their Facebook pages, re-tweeting their tweets on Twitter and commenting on YouTube videos. But, even though this movement has exploded over the last several years, most of the companies involved are still B2C companies.
So – how can a B2B company benefit from Social Marketing?
According to Paul Gillin, author of “Social Marketing to the Business Customer,” the answer is simple.
In his book, which focuses on how B2B companies can successfully engage in social marketing, Paul Gillin lays out some best practices that all B2B marketers can benefit from. He argues that business buyers are looking to make decisions as quickly and intelligently as possible, and that the Internet is the best place to engage these buyers. He writes that social marketing tactics are not right for all B2B companies, but used in the right ways for the right corporations social media can be a very effective business-to-business tool.
Below are what he considers to be the top 3 benefits of social marketing for B2B clients:
1. Social media offers a way to humanize a business
Your online presence is the “face” of your company, resonating with people and engaging them in what your company has to say. Being able to connect with customers online is effective because it is essentially an extension of your brand, through a channel that your customer understands and can relate to.
Using your name, or even a picture of your face, is a literal translation of this (and it has been done!) – but another way to achieve this is by starting a company blog, and giving your company a voice.
2. Social media can provide opportunities to achieve market intelligence through surveillance
With social media you have the opportunity to monitor what is being said about your industry, from potential buyers and the general public. This information can make you more intelligent about your industry, and can be used to strategize future plans. You also can use your role in discussions to show your thought leadership and expertise.
3. Social media allows a company to discover new product opportunities or holes in the current market
As a member of the social media community, you are also a part of online conversations and discussions on new products, trends or news in your industry. More importantly, you can also monitor what your competitors are doing – or what they are not doing.
For example, you can monitor what people are tweeting or blogging about a competitor and get clues on how you can also be optimizing your business or using opportunities to get ahead.
With the right strategy and tools, B2B companies can (and should) effectively take action through social marketing channels.
For more information and additional resources, check out Paul’s website here.
Zer0 to 5ive Strategist