Posts Tagged ‘B2B’

B2B Social Media: Who, What, When, Where, How and Why [Infographic]

Social media isn’t just for consumer brands. In fact, more and more B2B brands are waking up to the power that comes from being able to connect with their customers and potential customers through social media. More importantly, they’re seeing results from it.

Did you know that 83% of business marketers say that they’re using social media? Or that 75% of customers of B2B business customers plan on using social media to connect with and learn more about vendors? With numbers like that, it’s hard to ignore.

So where does one start when using social media for the B2B space? Well, lucky for you, we’ve put together an infographic to help you get started.

Below you’ll find our infographic with three tips to get get started in B2B social media, along with some pretty interesting facts about the space.

But if this was just enough to wet your whistle, don’t worry, we have more for you in our latest white paper. If you want to learn how to use social media for B2B effectively, check out B2B Social Media: A Roadmap To Revenue.

Moving Beyond Social Media Tactics to Find Business Value

Today’s blog has been written by Marketwire and Sysomos’ COO, Jim Delaney

If you were to believe the recent blog headline “Social Media is a Waste of Time for B-to-B,” then your company may miss an a significant opportunity to create communication that leads to valuable business outcomes.  Given the nascent nature of the Social Media revolution, there is no shortage of headlines like these based on an incomplete understanding of end-to-end business process.   Most posts, like this one, address the value of social media in the context of infrastructure only, detailing the components of the infrastructure that must be in place. Rather than focusing on the infrastructure only, businesses need to think about how social media can support the infrastructure, while also providing high-level business value.

The first question you should always ask is, ”How will social media support my company’s higher level goals, and why do we want to engage in social media?” As an executive and marketer, it’s not that I don’t care about the number of friends, followers, views and retweets.  But, I’m much more interested in seeing a clearer picture of how social media affects my company on a business level. Does social media help us to manage our company’s reputation, augment our customer service program, gain market share, and/or increase employee productivity?

Too often, the focus on social media is tactical communications, with marketing, branding and PR departments rushing to have conversations and share content, without understanding how participation connects to higher-level goals. Simply pumping content through different channels clearly is not enough.  Social media success, of course, is based on several basic best practices including:  a good functional website where you can drive social media traffic, a customer service program capable of answering questions at numerous touch points, a strong industry presence and the resources to support relationship building with your stakeholders.

However, moving beyond the initial infrastructure, you must also look more closely at using social media to create opportunities that result in better:

Reputation Management

Social media allows a company to proactively set up a customer “listening” program with data and insights to determine how your stakeholders think and feel about your brand. Armed with an enormous amount of analytics, you are able to keep a pulse on the market. You are also constantly monitoring customer sentiment and preventing the smallest negative conversations from escalating into what could be a mountain of crisis, by simply being responsive. Addressing issues as they arise is the best way to preserve a thought leadership position and maintain a positive image in an age of public conversations.

Customer Service Satisfaction

Facebook has become a customer service portal, with employee representatives answering questions, offering useful advice and solving problems on your pages. Whether it’s a simple inquiry about your product or a verified complaint, a social network can serve as a helpful forum, opening up a new avenue for stakeholders to praise your service or vent their dissatisfaction. Companies have learned quickly that using Facebook to answer questions cuts down on the call center inquiries, which, in turn, also cuts costs. Customer satisfaction is at the heart of every business. If your stakeholders are participating in social media, then you need to be listening carefully with the right tools to help and solve their issues.

Lead Generation and Sales

The social media million-dollar question is how does community engagement create leads, which convert to product sales?  Where social media analytics end, website analytics begin.  You must track how your social media program drives traffic to your website, and then monitor your stakeholder behavior from there. Using unique landing pages as a part of a Facebook contest or a Twitter promotion allows you to capture leads on the page, and then use the information to further engage with interested parties.  However, if you are not set up properly to capture the social media analytics and track from click to conversation on your website, then you will not be able to see a direct connection between social media participation and potential sales for your company.

Employee Productivity

As much as we rush to communicate through social networks, tremendous value comes from the education and subsequent internal collaboration of your employees.  Training employees to understand, embrace and use social media collectively in their departments and even cross functionally opens up your organization to innovation and idea generation. Collaborative technology can be used from brainstorming new product ideas to strategic planning initiatives. Cutting back on email, and streamlining your process by editing documents in real time, is a great way to increase productivity, and also to assure consistent communications messaging, from champion to champion across the organization.

Of course, if you don’t have the basics down, then there is no way your organization can even begin to think about how social media is tied to increased market share, reputation management, better customer service, enhanced lead generation and greater employee productivity.   Get the basics or infrastructure in place, know what you’re trying to achieve and create a social media plan with strategies that lead to greater outcomes.

If you can think about the higher-level goals first, then you will find social media is not a waste of time. In fact, you will realize it leads to valuable business outcomes.

The Growing Sexiness of B2B Social Media

Ever since social media emerged as a useful and valuable corporate marketing and sales vehicle, most of the attention has been on the business-to-consumer (B2C) market.

Companies such as Dell, Starbucks, Naked Pizza and Comcast have been celebrated for their success in leveraging social media to connect with consumers, offer better customer service and drive sales.

Meanwhile, the B2B social media market has pretty much been ignored. Perhaps the biggest reason is the potential audience is considerably smaller than the B2C market so from the outside looking in, B2B social media may appear be far less interesting.

The reality is this is far from the truth. In fact, B2B social media can be as effective and enjoy as much success as B2C social media. In fact, the strategic approach between B2B and B2C social media is similar. The differences lies in the tactics used because the approach and tone of B2B social media can be more formal. (For more thoughts on the strategic vs. tactic angle, check out this post by Jay Baer.)

So what are the benefits for B2B social media? On a high level, it offer ways to:
– Build relationships with existing and potential customers

– Provide better and faster customer service

– Offer information about your products and services to suppliers, partners, employees and investors

– Establish a stronger brand and market presence

– Engage in business development, sales and marketing opportunities.

As the global economy begins to recover, B2B social media is going to become increasingly sexy to more companies are recognizing that social media can leveraged effectively to achieve strategic and tactical goals.

A lot of this activity is happening as companies look for new and different ways to do marketing and sales after spending most of 2009 doing little more than trying to hold their heads above water. Now is the time many companies are willing to do new things rather than do nothing.

For more thoughts on B2B social media marketing, Penn Olson’s Sarah Chong has a good post on the benefits, while Michelle Bowles has five example of B2B social media “winners”.

As well, here’s a chart looking at social media ad spending:

Social Media, Not Just for B2C

For most, if not all, consumer-facing companies, social media makes complete sense, which is why there’s so much attention on what high-profile companies such as Dell, Comcast and Starbucks have been doing.

But what about the world of B2B?

Does social media have a place within the marketing, communications and sales activity of businesses trying to reach out and engage with other businesses? The short answer is “definitely” but the way B2B social media is done will be different than the B2C market.

eMarketer suggests that tone is important because the way businesses talk to other businesses is different than how they communicate with consumers.

As well, the benefits of B2B social media are obviously different with more focus on results (leads, sales, product feedback etc.) than soft metrics such as better customer service.

After writing about how Naked Pizza uses social media recently, I heard from its creative agency who said while B2C is important, social media is also an effective B2B tool that has let Naked Pizza engage with a “new generation of stakeholders” such as investors and suppliers”.

Below is an interesting eMarketer chart showing the different social metrics for B2C and B2B companies.