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How B2B Companies Can Leverage Social Media Marketing
By Alison Brown, Web Success Team
It’s a common misconception that social media marketing is only for consumer-based companies. When most people think of social media marketing, they usually think of using Facebook or Twitter to converse with customers and promote their products. However, if you are a business-to-business company, you can also use social media to generate leads and converse with customers, your strategy will just be a little different. One study conducted by eMarketer actually found that in 2011, four out of five U.S. businesses with at least 100 employees planned to use social media for marketing purposes. The most important thing to remember is that key business decision makers are using social media. Even if they come across your page when using it for personal reasons, if you captivate their attention, that’s the first step in building a potential relationship with them.
Make Sure You Have a Plan
Planning is a very important part to social media strategy. In fact, it’s important for any business strategy in general. Companies that clearly outline their goals and strategies prior to rolling out any social media often have the highest success rates. Sometimes it can be hard to quantify the goals of social media, however if you start by examining some of your company’s overall marketing goals, you may find that some of these targets are easily achievable with social media. For example, one of your goals could include expanding the sales cycle to incorporate new market segments. While this is a broad goal, it can become attainable through a little ingenuity by coming up with ideas such as commenting on ten industry discussions on LinkedIn per month or increasing blog subscriptions by 20% in six months.
Do Your Research
Social media can be used for a variety of purposes such as increasing online awareness of your brand, generating leads, encouraging customer feedback, or promoting your products. Since there are so many different avenues, it’s important to do your research. Researching your client base is an important facet to developing your social media plan. Depending on your industry, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest may suit your company’s needs better than others. That way you will know which platform will have the best potential for engagement and lead generation. LinkedIn is usually a safe bet if your company’s marketing strategy is fairly conservative (since it’s a professional networking site), however Facebook and Twitter can also be useful when it comes to building a reputation and sharing knowledge.
Sharing Knowledge While Building Your Brand
For B2B companies, social media is best utilized for interaction and sharing knowledge. Sharing knowledge is a fundamental principal of social media marketing for both B2C and B2B businesses, but your target audience will determine the type of information you focus on. The sharing of information allows you to provide people with knowledge that not only will they appreciate, but they will notice that you know a lot about the subjects you are speaking about. Since B2B sales are also usually large quantities at a high price, it’s important that businesses are well equipped with useful information. How you achieve this will depend on your industry and overall strategy, however some solutions could include writing a weekly newsletter to existing consumers keeping them updated on industry-related news or by starting a blog/publishing e-books in order to prove you are an authority in your sector.
Be Authentic and Be Patient
Relationship building is all about trust, so if you are considering entering the social media sector, make sure that the image you project is one that best reflects your company. You want to make people feel like they know you well since they have interacted with you via social media, which is intuitively more personal than a standard website interaction. Sharing information is a great way to start building trust, so if you have already devised a plan to achieve your goals, start sharing away. Just remember to be authentic, and also be patient. Social media marketing is not meant to work overnight and it does take quite a bit of persistence, but overtime you will definitely be able to see a tangible difference and you will be well on your way to becoming a social media professional.
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