Define Goals for B2B Social Media Success

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?

Comments

  1. says

    Brad, great final point regarding “triviality.” Perhaps the term relaxed or casual works there too. Too many equate being professional with being formal and stuffy – wearing a tie doesn’t make you smarter, and ignoring social media certainly doesn’t make you richer.

  2. says

    Hi Chris, You are exactly right. The types of social media conversations people scoff at are the same things they themselves say at a cocktail party or business lunch. Social media doesn’t change human nature or the rules of business — it just gives us a new and powerful place to put them to work. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  3. says

    I’d agree. I’m sick of hearing people say there isn’t value in social media for the b2b world. Platforms which engage so many people are too powerful for this to be true… they are great for engagement; people do business with people know and trust and facebook, twitter, linkedin, etc. are wonderful for relationships building with people in your niche, field or target audience.

  4. says

    Ben, Thanks for bringing up LinkedIn. That network always slips my mind but it’s ideally suited for B2B, where high-level relationship building pays off — to say nothing of recruiting, where LI also shines.

  5. says

    REally good points. The relevance and engagement are key to successful and building a valuable social media program. Valuable for the owner as well as participants. In one new initiative, 85% of our targets are not even in LinkedIn so that tool is less useful. Which tool is good for you

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  6. says

    Chris – Great points. It always surprises me that people forget social media, a la blogs, has its roots in B2B and small business. Since much of the B2B sales process is entrenched in developing and maintaining “people to people” relationships your 3rd point is well taken. I call it social media of the mundane or building walls in virtual world .. same concept.

  7. says

    Great read! B2C seems like the only use for social media in many of my clients and potential clients eyes. They just dont see how great it can be – I’m going to forward this article whenever someone puts down the B2B aspect of social media.

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