B2B marketing has evolved considerably in the last 5 years from the days when businesses focused their marketing channels on trade shows, webinars, direct mail and telemarketing. Surprisingly, I still encounter marketing leaders in B2B companies who are skeptical on the value of social media as part of their overall marketing mix. Here then are the top reasons why social media is ideal for B2B marketers:
Social media builds relationships over the long term
Most B2B sales cycles involve building a relationship of trust and comfort over the long haul. Unlike B2C sales, which are often a one-off interaction (a customer searches for a particular item, compares prices, makes a purchase and may or may not ever return,) it can take weeks or even months for a B2B company to close a new business prospect, given the complexity of the sales cycle and procurement processes. This can be especially true for enterprise software companies or other emerging technology brands. Social media marketing channels allow for educating customers through valuable content over a longer period of time, at the well as engaging with prospects and establishing a relationship with them.
It allows your company to showcase its uniqueness
Social media by its very nature is a collection of stories and content told in an engaging manner. What better platform for a company to show off it’s own unique personality and appealing brand characteristics? You can use your social media channels to educate your prospects and customers through compelling content, white papers, contests, offers, video chats and hang-outs – the possibilities are endless. Whichever social media channel you choose to publish on, you have the opportunity to display the uniqueness of your product, your point of view and your company’s personality in an engaging way.
It allows you to truly understand your customers
Over time as you engage with your customers over your social channels, you will begin to see patterns emerge on what your customers truly want from your company. Your social media audiences can also provide you with the ideal place to conduct your own private research through informal surveys and polls.
Social media provides great lead generation opportunities
Social media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are masters at collecting data on their audiences, and if your company chooses to advertise on these sites, you will find a wealth of targeting opportunities at your disposal. Twitter and LinkedIn in particular offer targeting categories via social advertising that allow you to reach industries, companies, individuals, discussion groups or even your competitor’s audiences. Even if you do not engage in social media advertising, your very presence on social media channels will over time help increase organic traffic to your company’s website, as social media content often improves search engine optimization.
If you still don’t believe that social media is ideal for B2B companies, check out what top performing B2B brands like VMware, SAP, Cisco and McAfee are doing on their social media channels. These companies are masters at educating and nurturing opportunities via their social media channels.