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Social Media for B2B Businesses: Missed Opportunity?

  |  November 15, 2011   |  Comments   |  

There's a need to follow an organised approach for social media and here are some steps B2B marketers can follow. But before that, let's debunk some myths.

When I asked a B2B client about their purpose and objective behind using social media, the response was, "I don't have any objective, my CEO has asked me to do it". Thankfully the client was honest enough to tell me the reality. It leaves me thinking that there might be many such B2B marketers who are doing it just for reasons like this and not because their audience is there.

Before we discuss how social media can help the B2B fraternity, it's important to break some myths prevailing in the industry.

Myth 1: Social media is just for kids and youngsters.

Truth: Social media is going mainstream. Leading social network Facebook shows that the fastest growing segment is users above 30 years of age. Nearly 75 percent of baby boomers use video sharing sites like YouTube multiple times a week.

Myth 2: Social media doesn't apply to B2B.

I am often asked this question by clients "Is it really for us, isn't it something which consumer companies should do?"

Truth: B2B Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn conducted a survey called "Social Media in B2B Marketing" and found that marketers have significantly increased their social media presence and related activities in the last three years.

According to the report, 57 percent of B2B marketers are using some form of social media to connect consumers, create leads and tap into new sources of innovation.

Myth 3: Social media is obscure, niche content.

Truth: Social media is a trusted source for many purchase decisions and product opinions, especially in B2B. It allows deep and thorough analysis of content because of the nature of the content published on social channels, which is the very essence of any B2B decision-making. B2B decision makers spend 1 percent of the time buying; they now spend the other 99 percent researching and talking to each other.

Myth 4: Social media is not relevant to conversion.

Truth: Social media has wide and broad applicability across the entire sales funnel. The diagram below shows, how various elements of social engagement help generating the business value out of it.

Myth 5: It's too risky to be considered as part of the digital marketing mix.

Truth: More than 56 percent of B2B marketers that have tried social media, feel that it is an effective tool for marketing.

The Opportunity: How Can Social Media Help B2B Marketers

When it comes to social media, the B2B fraternity faces some practical challenges like measurability, content creation, and ROI calculations etc.

If you look at the graph below, most of the marketers don't have any metrics for social media. The sales funnel graphic given above in the article can be a good starting point in measuring the activities on social media.

There is a need to follow an organised approach for social media as well. Here are some steps B2B marketers can follow to leverage this huge opportunity.

1. Set Objectives
Your objective to go on social media platforms should be clear to you. What do you want to achieve will ultimately decide the fate of your efforts. Try to keep your objectives measurable. Your objectives can be:

  1. Thought leadership
  2. Brand awareness
  3. Demand generation
  4. Customer loyalty
  5. Or you can choose from the graph below to suit your business needs

2. Google Your Brand
Look at top 10 results of Google, whether they are positive or negative. Examine which of them are through social channels and what do they convey.

3. Initiate Listening
There are enough social listening tools available in the market to help you do this and some of them are free of cost too. You can also start by setting up a Twitter account and listen to what people say about your product/service. You can use Google Blog search to keep an eye on bloggers' discussions.

4. Identify Influencers
Social listening data will give you insights about the top influencers in your category. You will be able to see how many conversations they started and how many others are following them. Identify those who are experts in your industry.

5. Make Yourself Searchable
One good way to do this is to join LinkedIn. Listen to what people are asking and answering in LinkedIn.

Make your content findable and simplified through both multimedia and text. Use illustrations and images to explain complex issues. Seed explanatory videos on YouTube, share slides on Slideshare.

Social media presents a huge platform to B2B marketers to create unique business opportunities for their products, and it's high time that they should see this as a business priority rather than anything else.

Source of data and graphs: Social Media in B2B Marketing survey by B2B Tech Marketing Community.

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RP  Singh

RP Singh is a digital marketing specialist with over 12 years of new media experience working in India, China, and Southeast Asia. As the CEO of Sirez Group, RP looks after 4 companies under Sirez: Sirez Infosystems, MRP Digital, Apptology and Sample&Try. He has worked at leading media networks WPP and Starcom MediaVest Group including organizations such as GroupM, Starcom, Ogilvy, Trident Group, and Smile Interactive. RP has worked on brands like P&G, General Motors, Amex, Diageo, Qualcomm, Nokia, Lufthansa, Pepsico, Economist, British Airways, GSK, Tourism New Zealand, HSBC, Ford, Perfetti Van Melle, Akzo Nobel, Apollo Tyres, GE Money and Hero Honda among others. He believes digital is about the consumer, not technology. RP has trained over 600 marketers in digital marketing so far and also a member of advisory council for World Brand Congress. A lead trainer and mentor for afaqs Campus, an active blogger, and a visiting faculty at leading B Schools.

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