Thanks to Eleanor and the team at Novus in Cork for enquiring about using social media in the B2B context. This is a great question, there is such great emphasis on social media for B2C organisations that we can sometimes neglect the other side.
The great news is that in recent times there has been significant growth in the number of B2B businesses embracing social media. In this sphere it was found in the B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets & Trends by Content Marketing Institute, B2B are using social media more frequently with 73% of B2B content marketers producing more content than they did a year ago. 84 percent of marketers who say they are ineffective at content marketing said they have no documented strategy. B2B marketers who have a documented content strategy are far more likely to consider themselves effective - 66% vs. 11%.
These statistics indicate that as a B2B business it would be important to consider social media as a platform for your content marketing strategy. Let us explain.
The first step is to consider when embracing social media for your B2B organisation is to identify the strategic goals that will impact your business, for example do you wish you to create thought leadership content, grow partner connections or attract new talent?
When you have identified your goals, how to you want that to translate in a way that will resonate with customers? What is the voice of your company? When taking this into consideration, a trick to use could be to pick a character to help you define the tone, and approach. Chose a personage from a book or film that can help visualise and define your own voice? Does your business sound wise and caring like Dumbledore or strategic and professional like Alicia Florrick?
Educate Educate Eduacte:
One you understand your voice, master your message and refine your product story. The Steve Jobs approach is one to abide by, ‘nobody cares about your product or service. They only care about how your product or service will improve their lives’.
With a solid voice and a clear message that enriches the lives of your customer, education is key. In the IDG Connect B2B study, 89% of IT buyers stated that they want educational content and buyers will look to social media as the single most important content source to inform their buying decisions.
Ensuring customers know what it is you do plays an important role in the customer buying cycle:
1. Awareness: Prior to awareness a customer may have a need, yet may not be aware there is a solution.
2. Research: Once a customer is aware of a solution, they will undergo research to educate themselves.
3. Consideration: Following research, a customer starts comparing different products from the various vendors to ensure they’re getting a high quality product at a reasonable price.
4. Buy: Lastly, the customer will make their decision and move forward to a purchase.
Providing compelling content for each stage in the buying process can move buyers from first touch to purchase.
Content marketing is an effective way in educating your customers. A definition from the Content Marketing Institute outlines that ‘content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action’. Tools to help deliver valuable and relevant content can be captured through photos, videos, infographics, blogs, or podcasts.
In addition to education and building awareness of your product social media is a platform in which to embrace your partners. These could be the people who work within your company or outside, such a suppliers or complementors of your product offering. Engage with your partners regularly, share their posts, like their photos or write a comment. It is important to engage with your partners as invariably they can help you discover new channels and new audiences within your own industry.
An equally important factor in having a strong social media presence leads back to attracting talent. When investigating your company a potential employee, certainly those of generation Y will look to your social media platform to get a sense of your company culture and whether you are a right fit for them.
There are some B2B organisations who master social media incredibly well in an effort to build brand salience, generate leads and recruit top talent that we could learn a thing or two from.
General Electric have to be up there as one of the greats in engaging their audience. Their Pinterest 25.5 thousand followers and Instagram accounts with 202 thousand followers, is something to behold. GE have taken the inspiring angle in which they don’t focus on their products but rather express their fascination and awe at science and innovation.
Maersk is another fantastic example with nearly 46 thousand followers on Twitter, you would wonder as a global trade, shipping and energy company how you could use social media to engage customers. Maersk use incredibly beautiful images to paint a picture of their products in the context of the world. These innovative approaches in the B2B context have led to a significant increase in engagement with their customers.
On a final note as an electrical and security contractor don’t be fearful of humour to engage your customer. As Tim Washer, social media producer of Cisco tell us, humour demonstrates confidence, and authenticity which will help you connect with customers through the clutter of posts and content. The Nielsen Global Survey of Trust in Advertising found that 47% of global respondents agreed that humorous ads resonated the most. Check out the Kinaxis videos on YouTube to help you see the funny side of Supply Chain management! Think of it in the sense that making your customers laugh is a nice gift to give.
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