It’s about targeting the right few, not the undifferentiated many
Social media is all about conversational marketing, and that’s why it works so well with a B2B strategy. Social media is not about the masses. It is about reaching your target audience. Listening before selling and hearing before talking.
Often businesses like to measure a social media campaign’s success by the number of followers its Twitter account has or the number of fans their Facebook page has. However, these measures are not necessarily the signs of a well-executed social media campaign.
Social media is all about the few rather than the many. The community you build up is ideally made up of the people who are most interested in your brand. If we apply the 80-20 rule here, we are speaking of the 20 percent who make up 80 percent of your business.
I find that B2B and B2C social media campaigns are quite similar in that they both target the opinion leaders whether they be the consumers or the business executives. These influencers lead the way for the rest of their followers.
B2B strategy, just like B2C strategy is all about networking — conversing with the right people, at the right time. The more in tune you are to things that are happening in your network, the more you increase your chances to be at the right place, at the right time.
According to eMarketer, in 2010 these will be the results for online marketing spending:
As you can see, website spending is forecast to rise 71 percent and social media spending will increase 60 percent in the next year.
It is apparent that companies are understanding that they need to: 1) create a social presence within social networks, and 2) create a website and/or blog that reflects an active online presence.
Why B2B companies use social networks
As to the reasons most B2B companies are using social networks, eMarketer had the following results:
As you can see, companies turn to social networks to show their leadership in their field, to find new potential customers by communicating with the community, to receive customer feedback and give customer service. There’s no better tool these days than Twitter to handle real-time customer service issues, and many brands do this beautifully, including ComcastCares, Dell, and Starbucks. They also advertise and do market research via social networks.
What about the reasons that companies use social media?
The top reason B2B companies (just like B2C companies) use social media is to generate awareness about their brand. The second top reason is to engage with customers on an ongoing basis. And the third top reason is to engage with top influencers on the Web.
Monitoring online conversations and responding to feedback is an extremely important element of social media, which only 14 percent of companies seem to understand.
B2B companies that are not using the social tools they have available today will find themselves at a major disadvantage against other B2B companies that are using LinkedIn, Twitter and similar networks to extend their reach and create better communication between the brand and their customers and potential customers.
Next time you doubt whether social media is right for B2B companies, think about what B2B strategy is all about: It is about the relationships and partnerships you build with your colleagues, and there’s no better way to do this today than through social media.
Image credit: StickyMessageAyelet Noff is a partner in Socialmedia.biz and founder and co-CEO of Blonde 2.0, specializing in creating brand awareness, engagement with consumers and overall buzz for brands online. Contact Ayelet via The Blonde 2.0 website , email, or follow her on Twitter and Google Plus.