As more businesses launch successful social media campaigns, it’s becoming clear that opting out of the social revolution can put companies at a competitive disadvantage. Social media offers the immediacy and interactivity consumers want and anticipate. It can intensify customer engagement, drive quality leads and produce higher ROI.
Consumer brands understand just how essential and effective social media marketing can be. Procter & Gamble, for instance, is now spending more than a third of their $9.5 billion marketing budget on digital initiatives in this year alone.
Yet many B2B companies have declined to board the social media train because they think it has nothing to offer them. Many of them categorize tools like Twitter or Facebook as too personal for B2B, or targeted at a younger crowd. Many also assume that decision-makers and C-suite leaders are too busy to pay attention to LinkedIn or Google Plus.
Even Business Decision-Makers Use Social Networks
The truth is that even top business leaders socialize with family and friends online in their free time. Just as someone else might check out the Facebook page of a favorite band or clothing line, executives are likely to check out companies they might do business with. Rigid demographics no longer apply to social media platforms; people of all ages are on social media and they are using it for business, socializing, shopping, research and more. Furthermore, social marketing can provide unique benefits like real-time interest and attribute data that can be a game-changer for B2B strategies.
Some forward-thinking B2B brands have caught on. IBM, Cisco and Intel have all harnessed the power of social media marketing through intelligent strategies and powerful campaigns. They understand what many B2B marketers do not — that in an increasingly digital world, companies who sidestep the social revolution are positioning their brands for failure.
Below are the eight benefits social media marketing can deliver for your B2B business.
Thought leadership. Social media is often your first chance to make an impression on leads. Offering content like webinars and articles from your company’s subject matter experts can convey your credibility and expertise, as well as overcome typical buyer objections. The resulting feedback can provide valuable product insight as well.
Engagement. While putting a human face on a business might seem more suited for B2C companies, people still like to do business with people they know. Posting video demonstrations, company news and customer stories can build a sense of trust and drive greater interest and attribute data on an opt-in basis.
Leads and traffic. Implementing a strategy of persistent marketing and high-quality content is the key to both fostering credibility and attracting high-quality leads. Because the data and feedback are real-time, the insights are that much more valuable. Also important: the B2B sales cycle is typically longer and more complex than the B2C, meaning that a compelling and consistent content strategy will drive traffic and leads that eventually convert.
Cost savings. With the right tools, you can launch, measure and modify your social marketing campaigns immediately, eliminating months of slow and expensive production. Instead of waiting through a traditional marketing cycle to see and analyze results, you can get real-time feedback and quickly adjust multiple campaigns to make the highest impact possible.
Campaign reach. Today’s users turn between Web, mobile and social on a dime. Extending seamless campaigns across all three delivery paths creates a unified and pervasive brand presence that ensures you reach the right audience at the right time while reaching an overall greater number of leads.
Interest and attribute data. Social media provides a treasure chest of data that gives insight into buyer dynamics and motivations. Analytic tools and interest and attribute data can help you identify specific buyer communities, and then refine and tailor your content to launch resonant, high-performing campaigns.
Network. Not all social media interaction will lead directly to your next client, and that’s okay. Building a diverse network of online industry contacts can lead to your next great employee or vendor or even a great referral.
Relevance. As more B2B companies create engaging social presences, a failure to participate can make your company look like it’s behind the times. Both companies and consumers often measure brand profiles in part by their digital visibility; brands who lack a strong social presence risk looking irrelevant and out of touch.
Social media marketing is a golden opportunity for B2B. From fostering new business relationships to acquiring customer insights, the benefits are numerous. Smart B2B companies will build strategic digital initiatives and join the conversation.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.