Let’s explore a facet of social media that’s often ignored — B2B (define) social media. Last month, my agency ran a social media seminar at the New England Direct Marketing Association Conference. When an audience member asked about B2B social media, Bianca Garcia, one of our star media planners, jumped right in with a lot of good information. She has a special gift for navigating the social media landscape, so I interviewed her for more information.
Harry Gold: Who are you and what do you do?
Bianca Garcia: I’m an media planner for Overdrive Interactive, and my job includes planning, buying, implementing, and optimizing online and social media campaigns. I first joined the search marketing team at Overdrive before moving to the media department. I have an MBA and prior to working for Overdrive, I worked for “Cosmopolitan” magazine, “Seventeen” magazine, and Leo Burnett. My background in search and traditional media has greatly contributed to a well-rounded understanding of online campaigns.
HG: We all know that social media marketing is good for B2C (define), but are there any sites that are good for B2B?
BG: LinkedIn would be an obvious choice, but there are also industry-specific networking sites like ITtoolbox (where you can tap into a huge professional IT community), the Minyanville Exchange (a financial social networking site), Designer Pages (for architecture and design), and lots of others. However, keep in mind that “traditional” social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, even Twitter have B2B profiles and profiles where people often list their professions. So you can do certain kinds of B2B targeting by profession.
HG: Tell me about some of the B2B opportunities that you find interesting.
BG: You have to remember that I am a media planner and I look at online campaigns holistically, meaning I don’t just think of a social media campaign as establishing a mere presence in the social networks, but I always tie in banner ads, blog outreach, e-mail blasts, newsletter sponsorships, etc., into the media mix.
With that, I think LinkedIn offers a pretty basic but comprehensive opportunity: your company puts up a profile and connects with LinkedIn members, then you promote and supplement your profile with targeted display ads, dedicated e-mails, and sponsorships of the “Answers” category. For instance, if you are a B2B technology company, you might want to sponsor the IT category. This way you reach people who are actively seeking information about your product/industry, and you get to engage with them in a community setting.
ITtoolbox also offers great ad opportunities for enterprise IT companies. You can set up a vendor profile; have a variety of ad units, text links, dedicated e-mails, and newsletter sponsorships; and even help with lead generation through Webcast promotions and white paper programs.
And let’s not forget YouTube. Some B2B companies might dismiss YouTube as simply a youth-oriented, amateur-video site, but it is far from that. YouTube has turned into such a powerful and relevant social media tool that anyone can leverage its reach and viral effectiveness. There are thousands of education, science and technology, news, and how-to videos about and produced by various B2B brands and companies. For example, a quick search for “software as a service” on YouTube generated 1,220 videos. One video has been viewed more than 38,000 times!
A lot of sites would also be willing to work with you to set up custom content. You just need a strategic plan that details what direction you want to take, what results you are expecting and your KPIs [key performance indicators], and what you plan to do after you’ve launched your campaign. Also, a lot of these social networking sites offer fantastic targeting opportunities, so make sure your campaign will reach the right people.
HG: How much does this cost?
BG: It is usually free to set up a profile, but some sites have minimum buys for the supplementing display ads if you want the whole package or if you want a custom-branded channel (ranges from $25,000 to $250,000). It is best to support your profile page with display ads that will drive targeted users directly into your profile page. Also, it takes time and effort to create, maintain, and update these communities, and that should equate to monetary costs as well.
HG: How about blogs?
BG: There is a huge opportunity in blogs, for both bloggers and marketers. At Overdrive, we immerse ourselves into the blog world with blog outreach and blog advertising. Also, there are some very good networks, like Federated Media, where you can advertise on influential blogs, which you can cherry-pick from specific categories.
HG: Any quick pointers?
BG: If you haven’t already done so, set up your profiles already! Join groups, discussions, post and answer comments, socialize. Drive friends and fans to your pages with display ads, text links, e-mail blasts, and other ad opportunities. Make sure you have a content-rich, constantly updated, relevant page.
Remember: whether you’re a B2C or B2B company, you can use the power of social media to foster brand affinity and build and maintain relationships with your core audiences.
HG: Thanks for all the great info, Bianca!