Are you a company that sells products or services to another company? Do you think social media marketing is irrelevant for your company because your company does not sell to individual consumers?
Did you answer ‘yes’ to both of these questions?
I encourage you to read on to find how social media marketing can grow your company.
Sprout Online recently started providing online marketing services to a company (the client) that provides services to another company. We explained to the client that:
- The internet has changed how businesses interact with customers and that prospective customers no longer go to the yellow pages to find an organisation suitable for their purposes.
- Customers now search for organisations online and that a website or one-way mass communication via email is no longer enough to build relationships with new customers and remain connected to existing ones.
- Companies that thrive today are those (a) whose websites rank highly in Google searches and (b) who engage and interact with their customers where they are located online – social media
- Huge opportunities for growth exist for B2B companies who are able to engage effectively with their target audience on social media.
Which social media tools are most appropriate for B2B companies?
B2B companies will benefit from engaging on all social media platforms – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest , etc. A presence on social media, particularly Google+ will improve the visibility of an organisation’s website on the Google search engine which is critical for generating leads and ultimately sales. The extent to which they will benefit will depend on the type of business. For example, if they are a carpet company selling carpet to architects and designers, platforms such as LinkedIn and Pinterest would be particularly appropriate. The 2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report published by Social Media Examiner found that there is little difference in how B2B and B2C marketers will increase their time investment in social media platforms except when it comes to Facebook, LinkedIn and blogging. For example, among many other things, the report revealed that:
- B2B marketers were far more likely to increase their use of LinkedIn in 2013. Over 76% of B2B marketers increased their use of LinkedIn compared to only 55% of B2C marketers in 2013
- When asked to pick which social media platform is THE most effective, LinkedIn and Facebook are tied for number one for B2B marketers at 29% each
- Blogging and Twitter play a much more important role for B2B (Social Media Examiner, 2013).
What is a key ingredient for effective social media marketing for B2B businesses?
Content is king (or queen)! Content is the building block of all online marketing for a B2B company. When writing blog posts or posting comments on LinkedIn or Facebook, companies need to remember that they are communicating with a person that works for a company, rather than a company. If this is front of mind, companies are likely to generate content that is not too promotional and is relevant and interesting to their customer base because it solves their problems and provides value. In short, the more content a generated by a company and uploaded onto their website and social media platforms, the more opportunities there exist to reach and build relationships with customers which ultimately leads to increased leads and sales.
When is online marketing not a good fit for a B2B company?
Online marketing might not be a good fit for some B2B companies if:
- They have a tiny customer base
- If the people you are trying to talk to can’t access the internet
What are some of the challenges of online marketing for B2B companies?
In our experience, some of the challenges we have experienced when providing online marketing services to B2B companies include:
- The person/s managing a company’s social media platforms is/are not necessarily the decision maker. When this is the case, it may be unlikely that interaction with them on social media will lead to enquiries and/or sales
- Some of the companies and/or organisations identified in the target market may not use social media. This fact can make it difficult for our client to engage with them and generate leads through social media
- Some companies are developing closer relationships with fewer suppliers which makes it harder for another company’s interaction with them on social media to lead to enquiries or sales through social media.
The take home message is simple – social media marketing, if done effectively, is extremely beneficial to B2C companies. In today’s digital age, a company’s growth is linked to their ability to engage with other companies online – if a company’s target market is other companies, a presence on social media is a must.
Are you a company that sells to other companies? What has been your experience with social media?