By Alexandra Reid
Readers of our content likely know that we work exclusively in the B2B marketplace. It has been common knowledge for some time now that social media is not limited to B2C companies; rather, B2B companies are succeeding (if not dominating) in engaging with online communities through social media channels. It is an exciting time for our clients, who are both intrigued and excited about the potential social media presents for allowing them to engage with prospects, customers, journalists and industry thought leaders.
B2B companies are excelling past their B2C counterparts in social media in many areas. Just check out these data points from a study conducted by Brian Solis:
- 81 per cent of B2B companies maintain company-related profiles on social networks, compared to 67 per cent of B2C.
- 73 per cent of B2B companies monitor brand mentions, compared to 55 per cent of B2C.
- 66 per cent of B2B companies engage in discussions, compared to 43 per cent of B2C
- 50 per cent of B2B companies upload content to social networks, compared to just 32 per cent of B2C
Multiple studies have been conducted that explain how B2B companies are rising in the ranks of social media. These studies show that B2B is taking LinkedIn by storm, and has made advancements on Twitter, YouTube, blogging and even Facebook, which is known to be predominantly a B2C channel. Less widely known are the distinct advantages social media presents B2B companies, which I will discuss here. If you are working in B2B, I hope this post will provide you with valuable information that will help you convince your sceptical colleagues and clients that social media is an asset worth investing in.
Social media supports the B2B sales cycle
According to Chris Brogan, maintaining relationships on social media channels supports the typically long sales cycle for B2B products. Sales professionals are starting to use social intelligence to learn more about their prospects and ensure they are engaging with them at the right time and with the right message. For example, Social Media B2B says that by listening to prospects through social media, companies can gain insight into changes in buyer’s environments. Social media also allows B2B companies to uncover competitive intelligence, providing them with the insight they need to succeed in their marketplaces.
Social media allows B2B companies to express their humanity
While it is also true for B2C companies, B2B companies especially benefit from using social media to express their humanity as they traditionally have fewer opportunities to connect on a personal level with prospects, industry leaders and journalists. Through social media, B2B companies can share compelling, emotional and memorable stories that appeal to their prospects, customers, prospective partners, media and analyst marketplaces in a way that traditional marketing messages may not. By replying to insightful comments about their industries on Twitter, or commenting on blog posts, B2B companies can develop a human voice and even put a spotlight on exceptional employees who are especially knowledgeable in focused areas. Connecting on a human level with prospects and industry leaders establishes a personal trust that can be invaluable to B2B companies for sales and media coverage.
Social media awards value to niche B2B industries
Contributing content about your niche B2B company through social media can add value and insight to your industry. According to Brain Solis’s study, mentioned previously, 74 per cent of B2B companies host their own blogs, 59 per cent participate in Q&A sites such as Yahoo Answers and LinkedIn forums and 46 per cent produce webinars or podcasts. If trade publications or other media are not covering your industry regularly, publishing your own content can be a great way to get your information out. It also, unlike traditional media relations where editors and reporters sometimes misinterpret provided information, allows you to have complete control over your messaging.
Social media is a great knowledge centre for B2B leaders
Because more B2B companies are contributing information about their industries through social media, there has never been more information to be had about specific industries. Every day, more information is uploaded on everything from spark plug manufacturing to retail technology providing insight and value to industries that could otherwise have been neglected by traditional media. According to businesses, the most useful social media resources are webinars and podcasts for their ability to learn new skills and/or research industries, products and services without the time and expense of travelling to conferences or other offline events. Webinars have been described as particularly convenient for professionals in rapidly changing or evolving industries where ongoing training is essential. Twitter has also been described as a valuable source of business information because people can quickly gain access to relevant information and start new business relationships.
In your experience, what other advantages does social media provide B2B companies?