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Who says social media isn’t for B2B marketing?

You are probably familiar with the benefits of social media by now. But do you know, according to recent research, about 24% of the top Business-to-Business (B2B) brands are still behind the social media curve?

It’s no surprise that B2B brands have been reluctant to adopt social given that social media as a tool has been seen to benefit Business-to-Consumer (B2C) brands. However, as social media becomes more entwined in information consumption habits, the opportunities for B2B businesses are beginning to evolve.

Take Volvo’s unprecedented success with their viral video of Jean-Claude Van Damme performing a split between two Volvo trucks – a classic example of B2B marketing taken to the next level. The virality of this video shows that social media is applicable, relevant, and very essential to B2B marketing; and we can’t help but wonder how much more successful B2B brands can be if they take on the social route.

For a start, here are four tips on how B2B companies can and should leverage social media to better their business strategy:

1. Understand your business and your audiences

Let’s put it this way – a competitor’s missed opportunity is a chance for you to gain a new business win and establish key relationships with customers and stakeholders. Social media provides an easy and effective platform for your business to identify these opportunities. With a social listening tool, you can keep track of relevant trends, what your customers are looking for, and how your competitors are engaging with their customers. For example, regular monitoring of key tech analysts and subject matter experts across markets has helped Dell identify and address pressing challenges and opportunities faced by their customers.

If your brand has an existing social media community, you can easily find out more about your customers’ businesses by asking them the right questions, offering the right incentives, and also analyzing their interactions on your social media channels. Together with findings derived from your social listening tool, you will be able to better understand your customers and their businesses on both micro and macro level, and fine-tune your overall business and social media strategy accordingly.

 2. Social media for content marketing

According to a study, approximately 70% of surveyed B2B marketers are including more content in their marketing strategy in recent years. Social media complements content marketing strategies due to its content promotion features and low-cost avenues.

For instance, if you’re looking to share relevant industry news that are known to your fellow industry executives, you can engage with them effectively by creating or joining a LinkedIn group. However, if the nature of your business leans more towards appealing visual content, you can create video content (or visually appealing content), similar to what Volvo has executed. As industries are continually evolving and shifting towards the digital landscape, B2B content marketing will become even more attractive for businesses to leverage as it helps to raise brand awareness and build up trust among key stakeholders.

3. Engaging your customers by showcasing your partnerships with them 

Do you have an online portal filled with B2B relevant content, such as customer case studies, white papers and blog posts? With social media presence, you are able to engage with your customers and partners by amplifying the latest news developments across different social channels such as your one-time collaboration, highlighting merits, as well as the new opportunities present for them.

You can also amplify content outreach by leveraging your brand’s social channels to drive traffic to the social media pages or posts that do not get as much organic reach. For example, consider the more technical B2B content, such as whitepapers or case studies. It may not have a high SEO value or an eye-catching headline, but there are professionals among your current and potential customers who find this type of information very valuable. With properly targeted social media posts, you can ensure your content is reaching the right audience within your network.

More importantly, social media allows you to connect with your existing and new customers and strengthen existing partnerships in a way B2B marketers have never done before.

4. Adopting a social business model

 While social media is effective for your B2B marketing strategies, its rapid evolution and technological advances presents unprecedented opportunities for your business. By moving beyond the confines of social media as a marketing tool, a social business structure enables you to truly understand your customers’ behavioral nuances on social media, reach out to new business prospects, as well as capitalize on the different social media capabilities. This can help you achieve your business objectives and goals across departments such as Sales, Customer Care, Marketing and Human Resource. Businesses need to start thinking out of their marketing box and look at ways to transform its organization into a social business. This helps to streamline internal processes and improving better work efficiency and communication.

 By Yvonne Tey, marketing director, APAC, Hootsuite

[Image by Shutterstock]

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