Making B2B social media trends work for you

By George Whitely, Stephan & Brady, Inc.,  www.stephanbrady.com
What is the biggest trend in B2B social media? The number of companies that are planning to add it to their marketing communications mix. Forrester Research projects that B2B social media marketing spending will grow from just $11 million in 2009 to $54 million in 2014.
Emerging trends include:

  • Engaging your customer where they are and giving them the content they want within the platform, rather than using social media as a driver to your .com—for example, populating your Facebook page with lead generation tools or starting a LinkedIn group.
  • Carefully selecting platforms based on your customer profiles—using LinkedIn to reach business professionals instead of Facebook, for example.
  • Leveraging the blogosphere—either by creating your own blog or becoming active on existing blogs.
  • Using social media for employee recruitment, even if you don’t engage in social media for other audiences. It’s a great way to connect with potential new employees at all levels.

Trends that aren’t working? While location-based social media is hot for consumer efforts right now, it’s a tough trend for many B2B marketers to leverage.

One of the biggest B2B social media trends is adopting a specific engagement model. The three most common are brand awareness, sales, or customer service.

Brand Awareness Model—Is your sales process long or complicated? This model is for you. Visibility and mindshare are key. It’s important to offer content aimed squarely at your audience. Perhaps you want to be known as a thought leader or expert in a specific area. Or maybe you want to promote specific products and services. In any case, you should clearly understand what you bring to the conversation—and where those conversations are taking place, because you’ll want to be there too. When choosing tactics and platforms, go where your customers are. Don’t forget the power of sharing tools such as Digg or Reddit.

Sales Model—If you’re focused on lead generation, or you’re selling well-defined, specific products (typically not big-ticket items), you fit here. The key is to make it incredibly easy for your customer to take the desired action. Special content and offers often play a role. Tracking and analysis is important, along with integration into back-end CRM databases or purchasing systems. Tactics and platforms depend on where your customers are and how easy it is to generate leads and track conversion to sales.

Customer Service Model—Airlines and cable companies are a great example of this kind of model. The challenge for B2B is dealing with proprietary or complicated information. Yet, if this fits your business model, it can pay off with tighter customer connections and a great way to convert prospects through word of mouth. Responsiveness is perhaps more important than content, and you definitely want to be where your customers are or where you can easily push them.
No matter which model, or combination of models, is right for you, it’s important to remember that your B2B social media isn’t happening in a vacuum. Your social media efforts should be tied into your overall marketing communications so you’re maximizing other online activities (SEO and SEM in particular), and even print, broadcast or direct mail efforts.  Integration shouldn’t be a trend; it should be your goal.

No matter which model, or combination of models, is right for you, it’s important to remember that your B2B social media isn’t happening in a vacuum.  Your social media efforts should be tied into your overall marketing communications so you’re maximizing other online activities (SEO and SEM in particular), and even print, broadcast or direct mail efforts.  Integration shouldn’t be a trend; it should be your goal.

Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

No posts to display