One objective for a social media program is to build brand equity. When people are interested in a firm’s products and services, Facebook is a great place to check them out and discuss them. Twitter is perfect for keeping tabs on sales promotions and company news.
Unfortunately, building brand equity via social media is not easy for B2B companies. First, their customer bases are far more limited than those of consumer brands. Second, brand awareness is often a much more important need, especially for small and midsize firms.
And, whereas social media is superb for building equity, it is not particularly effective for building brand awareness. B2B marketers too often miss this crucial distinction. If people aren’t aware of your brand, they don’t care about your brand. Motivating them to care about your brand enough to connect and engage on social media is a monumental task. It can be done, but it requires more effort in terms of content production and outreach than most B2B companies can muster.
Does this mean B2B companies should shun social media? Not at all. Rather, firms should simply identify different goals and set realistic expectations within the organization. Our clients work in a wide variety of B2B niches, such as GPS truck tracking systems and broadcast video equipment. Some have found the right formula, for others, the search continues.
3 Ways B2B Companies can Succeed with Social Media
1. Establishing credibility
When companies vet a new supplier, they will scrutinize its social media pages. Having a well organized, professional and active social presence sends a positive signal. Conversely, firms lacking a social footprint appear small and out of step.
2. Conveying competence and personality
Existing and potential customers may be interested in hearing from a firm’s leadership or even rank and file employees. Facebook, Google+ and in some cases Twitter can be effective for sharing professional expertise with a personal touch. This professional/personal combination can start and strengthen business relationships.
3. Improving job satisfaction
There is nothing wrong with using social media as a meeting ground for employees to share photos and communicate with colleagues in different locations. These activities add a fun factor to the job, build morale and encourage knowledge sharing across the organization. If all this adds up to better retention and productivity, there shouldn’t be any doubt about ROI.
These three examples should get you thinking creatively, realistically and precisely about social media goals that are best suited to your business.
It can be rather difficult to set internal expectations. Many times, internal stakeholders in a social media marketing campaign have preconceived ideas about social media, or worse, no experience using it.
3 Keys Ideas about B2B Social Media
1. It’s not how big the community is, but how relevant.
Having 100 of the right followers on Twitter can be huge; having 10,000 unengaged followers is useless.
2. Social media is measurable.
The precision of ROI calculations varies depending on the goals, but there are always metrics with which to gauge progress.
3. There is an element of triviality in social media.
But this is a positive, not a negative. In the same way sales professionals engage in small talk before trying to close a six-figure deal, social chatter, when kept in proportion, sets the stage.
With regard to most of the services our agency provides, we are usually in a position of encouraging B2B clients to think big. For social media, I often recommend thinking small. It is much easier to expand a program that is making measurable progress than to maintain an ambitious one that falls short.
Where has your firm had success with social media?