Social Media can be a tricky landscape that some business-to-business (B2B) marketers have a difficult time embracing. The reason? They don’t see the value social media brings to the B2B industry.
If this sounds like you, consider this. Social media platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) are some of the fastest and most effective ways to gain visibility for your business. They can be used to generate leads, drive conversions and connect with customers on an interpersonal level.
Here are four ways social media can make an impact on your business:
- Strengthen your brand’s position
- Establish your company as a thought leader
- Raise company and brand awareness
- Provide a platform to deepen customer relationships
Strengthen Brand Positioning
In the B2B world, brand positioning is integral to driving purchasing decisions. In a study of more than 700 hundred executives, Forbes found that professional buyers rely on the vendor’s reputation to reduce risk and simplify the evaluation process. While many B2B businesses build their reputation through honesty, integrity and expertise, they’re not communicating these attributes on social media platforms.
To strengthen your brand’s positioning on social media, you can cut through the clutter and tap into the emotion of your brand’s promise. While LinkedIn is the preferred method to reach B2B buyers, don’t underestimate the power of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. These platforms provide the opportunity to showcase corporate identity, customer success stories and products and services. Additionally, these platforms provide analytics that help target buyers based on their demographics and psychographics. With this data you can define your target niche and develop your brand voice by addressing their needs.
Example: The following chart is what the analytics would look like; it reflects a top line view of some key metrics (www.unmetric.com).
One of the best ways to build consumer trust is by establishing your company or brand as the go-to source for information about topics in your industry. By establishing your business as a thought leader, you’ll have more opportunity to create perceptions and capture the attention of key decision makers.
A research study conducted by Edelman and LinkedIn, surveyed 1,329 U.S. business decision makers across a wide range of B2B industries to understand the impact thought leadership had on the purchasing funnel. In the awareness stage, 42 percent of marketers said thought leadership helped with lead generation and 33 percent found it generated incoming calls from potential clients. During the consideration stage, the majority decision makers used thought leadership to vet an organization before working with them.
In the preference stage, over 80 percent of decision makers said it increased their trust in an organization, and in the purchasing stage, nearly half of the business decision makers credited thought leadership as a main reason for awarding their business to a company.
A recent LinkedIn report on the B2B buying process, provided a well-articulated discussion of how the buyer’s journey has changed. A dominant brand increases a business’s credibility and increases organically-generated leads. Your customers are using social media to make important decisions about finding, evaluating and choosing business partners. By using social media you’ll reach more stakeholders and influencers, so it’s important to target the right message to as many members of the decision-making team as possible.
Social media keeps your brand front-of-mind with more customers for longer periods of time. Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook offer opportunities to create sponsored posts where you can reach a specific target audience. Paid placements offer these advantages over organic (non-paid) posts to increase brand awareness by:
- Increasing reach with your target audience
- Driving traffic to website immediately
- Generating leads by creating interest and downloads for gated content
- Creating interest for time-sensitive promotions
In this same study, LinkedIn found that buyers who used social media exhibited stronger brand relationships during the awareness phase of the customer journey.
By delivering excellent content based on thought leadership, developing your customer relationships, and using paid social media to increase brand awareness, you’ll see powerful results.
Deepen Customer Relationships
Your customer is the core of your business, therefore all decisions should put them first with a focus on strengthening existing customer relationships. To be customer-centric in the B2B space means you’re providing full-service solutions that solve their problems. According to research conducted by Forrester Research, only 65 percent of B2B companies have a customer-centric approach to their business.
The report concluded that customer-centric companies were more likely to outperform their revenue goals compared to sales-driven companies. This demonstrates the opportunity to engage customers through multiple social media channels to gain their feedback in a timely and efficient manner.
It’s also important to establish a response plan that identifies which posts should be answered and defines the appropriate response. Businesses can even build their social media content calendar based on how their customers respond and what their customers need. In the end it’s about the power of trust and bringing customers the opportunity to be heard and understood.
Social media is just one tool where B2B marketers can add real value and deepen customer relationships. Now it’s up to you to create a social media strategy that supports your businesses objectives.
Need help, contact your Tech Data partner account manager or schedule a consultation with a Tech Data Cisco marketing consultant at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
Courtney Duke, an intern for the Tech Data Cisco team, recently graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and a minor in Communications. She has an interest in exceptional digital marketing practices and finding ways to leverage social media to bring value to business partners.