Is B2B (business to business) really ready for social media marketing? The short answer is "no." The long answer "is almost. Let’s just say that generally speaking, these kinds of companies are “social media curious.” My agency gets a lot of B2B inquiries from marketing, sales and PR executives with companies that are genuinely interested in “doing something a little different -- you know, funny and more edgy.” Half the time they chicken out and go back to whatever they were doing before they called us, which usually includes sleep-inducing product videos and downloadable PDFs that they will no doubt force upon corporate buyers who have grown accustomed to this, along with their bland breakfast and lukewarm coffee every morning.
My first reaction is to assume they understand their customers better than I do, but then I realize how insane that sounds, and decide that they simply don’t understand social media marketing. Here’s a quick crash course in case you need to get up to speed. I’ll go into more detail in a future article.
Social media marketing checklist:
1. Establish goals
2. Develop a solid social media marketing strategy
3. Integrate the social media strategy across all departments including marketing, sales and PR
4. Create funny, entertaining, engaging, informative, shareable content like videos, blog posts, graphics, updates and apps as social focal points
5. Encourage your target audience to share via social networking
6. Build and nurture an interested fan base of potential buyers
7. Actively engage that audience across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and other social networks
9. Adjust fire
10. Rinse and repeat
The whole idea is to offer content that will grab people’s attention and get them interested enough in what you’re offering to ask more questions, investigate, learn more. “But wait,” you say. “I’m supposed to grab people’s attention? This is B2B, not B2C.” Yeah, I know but guess what? That business that’s eventually going to buy your stuff is actually a person with co-workers, friends and a robust social life both on and offline.
B2B is still people selling to people, not buildings selling to buildings
Business to business, by definition, is one business selling stuff to another business, but the marketers and buyers involved are still people, not buildings. The purchasing decisions are made by individuals who are influenced by the same fun, cool, shiny marketing and tactics that influence B2C buyers.
The main difference between B2B and B2C marketing is that with B2B, there are fewer decision-makers for us to target for each product or service.
A software developer may sell 50,000 units to one large business, but for every 50,000 users there may be one person or small team responsible for finding and introducing the new software option to that business. What if you could reach those 50,000 potential internal advocates directly and mobilize them to influence the person responsible for corporate software purchasing?
As with B2C, B2B buyers are educating themselves
The buying process is changing fast in both the B2C and B2B sectors. People are looking to educate themselves rather than be sold to. So in essence, they are selling themselves on your products and services. Your job as the marketing, sales or PR arm of your company is to:
a. Get their attention
b. Differentiate your products and services from the other guys
c. Point them toward the information they need
Workplace sharing via social networks is huge, and good content gets shared and discussed like crazy. Pin your marketing message on the right content with the right social media strategy and your audience will reward you by steering it to your buyers.