8 Reasons Why B2B Social Media is Easier than B2C

B2B B2C Easy HardAlthough social media is seldom “easy,” there are some distinct advantages that B2B companies have over B2C brands in the social media space.  Here’s a list of 8 reasons why B2B social media is easier than B2C:

1. It’s driven by relationships
B2C marketing is largely based on a product and its price. It tends to be a more impulsive or emotional buying decision than B2B. B2B purchasing decisions tend to be more involved and relationship driven, and that suits social media.

In a B2B sales cycle, businesses tend to interface directly with potential customers multiple times in order to inform and educate the prospect. Social media can play a big role in this process. Through social media you can interact with the prospect and nurture the relationship, which can ultimately influence the final purchase decision.

2. Your practices can lead to sales
Your social media practices can demonstrate your business value which can lead to purchases. Users can see that you are reliable, responsive, intelligent, etc. via your social media practices.

3. You have more control
B2B companies tend to have less people talking about their brand than B2C companies. In most cases that means less content, and B2B typically generates less negative sentiment than B2C. That means B2B companies have less content to control and less negative content to deal with. Therefore B2B companies can maintain more control over their social content which makes it easier to get their message through to the right audience.

4. B2B purchase decisions are more rational
B2B sales cycles can span months or even years. Buyers research products, educate themselves, review competition, seek opinions via referrals or recommendations and in many cases, interact with brands before making a purchase decision. B2B buyers also need the approval of one or more colleagues to make the purchase. Compared to B2C, the B2B buying decision is a much more considered process and it’s based largely on business value.

5. It’s easier to build long-term relationships
The goal for most B2B marketers is to convert prospects into customers. Because the sales cycle is longer, B2B companies need to focus on relationships as part of that process. Communication with prospects, engaging them, educating them and leading them towards purchase creates the foundation for a long term relationship. And in many situations, the social media relationship continues past the sale through support, updates and continuing education.

6. The B2B market is smaller than the B2C market
Compared to B2C, B2B is a smaller, more focused target market. Using social media to identify prospects, connect with them and start building a relationship is faster and easier in the B2B market.

7. B2B buyers trust recommendations and feedback
Because B2B purchases are typically more considered decisions, B2B buyers tend to value the recommendations and feedback they receive from colleagues and other industry professionals. Social media provides a great opportunity to solicit product feedback, which can help influence the purchasing decision of the buyer.

8. B2B content has a long tail
B2B products tend to change less frequently than their B2C counterparts, so the social content you produce for your marketing efforts will create value for a longer period of time. That can make B2B social marketing more effective (and likely less expensive) than B2C.

Do you agree that B2B social media is easier than B2C? Are there any other ways that you feel B2B social media has an advantage over B2C?

How B2B Companies Can Use Google +1 for Recommendations

Google just announced the +1 feature to bring social recommendations to search. The initial presentation of the button is that it gives people the ability to endorse search results, and share that with their networks. The problem with that idea is that people are unlikely to recommend a search result without clicking through to the page. But the real idea behind the +1 button is that it will be incorporated on web pages and blog posts across the web (see it live to the left), and when people in your social network +1 things on the web, they will show up in your search results.

If this sounds like the Facebook Like button, that’s correct, but there is more power in this feature if it is adopted. Instead of updating a Facebook profile one time or leaving a trail of likes on sites across the web, the Google +1 shows up when people are looking for information using search. The +1 is meant to be an additional cue to get users to click on search results. These recommendations will also be incorporated into Google’s search algorithm, thereby strengthening the power of personalized search results over pages optimized for all.

Google has continued to struggle with social networking because they have tried to add social components to existing Google properties, but the success of these has been limited by their lack of access to a user’s true social network. In the B2B world, people focus on building strong LinkedIn networks that they can leverage for business recommendations. How would you like to incorporate that network into your search results? If people in your network start using the +1 feature on pages and posts, you can follow the steps below to get more value from search results. As an experiment, click the +1 button above. We’ll see how many +1s we can get and determine how it shows up in search.

Google lists the following as sources for +1 endorsements:

  • People in your Gmail (or Google Talk) chat list
  • People in your My Contacts group in Google Contacts
  • People you’re following in Google Reader and Google Buzz

As I noted above, these are not the sources that most people would consider their network of business professionals. Additionally, the Google world is based on a Google profile and Gmail, which are not necessarily where people in B2B companies maintain their contacts. Google does offer that to include people’s +1 recommendations into your search results, add them into the one of the above categories. And this is where you can thank LinkedIn for offering the ability to export your contacts. Follow these steps to bring your LinkedIn contacts to your Google contacts, where they can influence and improve search results for B2B products and services.

1. Go to http://www.linkedin.com/connections.

2. Click the link in the lower right to Export Connections and follow instructions to export for Microsoft Outlook (.CSV file).
3. Log into your primary Gmail account.
4. Click the Import Contacts in the lefthand navigation
5. Click Choose File and select the one downloaded from Linkedin.
6. Click the check box for “Also add these imported contacts to:” and choose My Contacts from the dropdown menu.

7. Click import and you are done. If people in your LinkedIn network indicate their recommendation of things by using the +1, it will now appear in your search results.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below about using Google’s +1 to improve B2B search results. Are you suffering from sharing button fatigue and having trouble deciding on which networks to share the best content?

Watch Google’s video below, but remember that the power of this lies in the second part of the idea and its implementation across the web.
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