It is true that B2B Marketers these days are finding their thoughts turning more towards social media than ever before. Surely one of the issues causing concern would be the relative lack of documented information on how social media should be different for B2B marketers as opposed to the more traditional usage in the B2C environment.
Especially in the Indian context there is a reasonable lack of specialists in this area and this probably contributes to the general lack of information. In this post, let us try to redress that balance, if we can, by defining some key ways in which social media would be different in the B2B context.
B2B decision making is complex. Several people influence the decision and each has a mandate to seek answers to different questions. Different people could be looking separately at cost, appropriateness of the solution, ease of deployment and use and so on.
The demand from social media then would be to provide each of them with the answers they specifically are looking for – a question of tracking the social media consumption patterns of all the relevant types of influencers and ensuring that content, reflecting your capabilities in a suitable light, is available to them when they choose to go looking for it.
While considering the areas requiring this specific B2B tweaking, the buzz words you are looking for are, #SocialSelling and #ContentMarketing.
It can be said that B2B buyers seek information that reassures them that their problem will be addressed – in other words they are seeking solutions. The focus of the Marketing Message, thus, should be on utility, form, function and the more tangible benefits, rather than on the potentially more emotional nature of the appeal to the typical B2C consumer.
If follows from the point above that the content one would create in the B2B context would have to be more descriptive or in-depth with a focus on educating. Success stories or user case studies showing how others in similar situations have benefited are most valuable.
So are audio and video content like, webinars, podcasts, user reviews or “how to” guides. B2B buyers are uber informed and while a lot of the information they collect will end up as column-fodder in a vendor comparison excel, providing them with the right kind of info is as good a way as any of rising to the top of that comparison.
B2B Social Media strategies need to be tied much more closely into the business operations – sales, demand generation, customer services / support etc. An overarching integrated strategy is much more likely to be effective here than a social media strategy performing in splendid isolation.
The imperative is to ensure that all the different siloes are aligned. For example, if the campaign of the month is “Quality Assurance Services”, then the content being created and promoted should be about QA and the influencers being engaged on social media should cover that area – you get the idea.
As someone who has been in B2B sales for 20 years, let me share a pretty open secret. As far as the VP Sales is concerned, the expected output from most B2B Social Media efforts is leads that the sales team can close.
In the end the only metric in B2B Social Media Marketing that really matters is “Revenue”- can your #B2BSocialMedia strategy achieve that goal?