If today the importance of social networks for the B2C sector is no more questionable, this does not hold true for B2B. Social networks don’t always come naturally to B2B companies, especially not those in traditional industries. They don’t see the point of “wasting time” to communicate on these networks and above all they do not understand the benefits they could gain from such a presence.
The fact is that more and more B2B companies are on social networks and the usefulness of these networks for B2B marketing has increased in parallel. It is therefore urgent and necessary for all these “unconverted” B2B players to change their mind-set and understand what these networks can bring to the B2B sector.
Mike Berry (https://uk.linkedin.com/in/mikeberrylinkedin) – strategic management expert and course leader at GEM – insists on that point: during our courses he pointed out that social networks have to be part of the global marketing strategy of any company.
Social networks are unavoidable for B2B companies.
Social networks represent a huge potential for B2B actors
First, social networks (professional and B2C) represent a huge potential thanks to the incredible number of their users.
The number of active users of the main social networks in 2016:
- 1, 55 billion: Facebook
- 668 millions: Tencent QZone
- 400 millions: Instagram
- 307 millions: Twitter
- 300 millions: Baidu Tieba
- 300 millions: Google+
- 230 millions: Tumblr
- 176 millions: Sina Weibo
- 100 millions: LinkedIn
- 100 millions: Pinterest
But the number of users is not the only figure that is amazing; the number of likes, shares… is also stunning: it is up to 10 digits!
Social networks cannot be ignored. But it would be a huge mistake, as a B2B actor, to limit professional networks (LinkedIn, Viadeo, Xing …). B2C social networks (Facebook, Twitter …) also have to be used. Both present different benefits: some are more focused on brand awareness, community… others more on products, customers, recruitment… But definitely they are complementary.
As a brand, developing a strong strategy on these new modes of communication has become essential for any B2B company; this is, truly, where the audience is expecting these latter ones.
B2B Companies have to use these social networks to communicate with their target, exchange, collect its opinions towards their brand, their products…
Social networks and B2B: let’s break the silos
Social networks are not to only be used externally. They can also be used inside the company. And in fact they should. They can surely help any company to get out its tradition “silo structure”. Cross communication will have finally space to exist; the possibility to exist. The benefit will be triple:
- Better communication and collaborative spirit,
- Reinforcement of the company culture,
- Last but not the least, a first step for the beginners toward the knowledge of the “standard” social networks.
Social networks and B2B: let’s federate teams
If social networks are not that much developed in B2B companies, it is more due to a lack of knowledge and understanding than anything else. People don’t like what they do not know and do not master. They simply mistrust it by ignorance; start with internal social network could then be a good option.
The knowledge by the use. The ownership thanks to the taste of community and all that it can bring positive in the daily work.
Next step will be the use of the employees on “standard” social networks. But this use will be “voluntary”; they will do it on their own. They will want to share their knowledge, experience, feelings …
Employees can easily be turned into advocates. Companies will then watch leads, sales and customer satisfaction increase.
They are some easy lever to put in place and use:
– Increase the pride of belonging to the company
– Develop a better quality of life at work
– Be in the Top 10 Best Employers
Employees are the companies best resource when it comes to word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM). They can reach an audience 10 times larger than any brand’s current audience, and can increase engagement.
Improve B2B brand awareness thanks to social networks
Engaging employees is a great part to brand awareness. But customers have also to be part of this journey. Customers have to be engaged with the company brand, with the aim of becoming true ambassadors and promote the brand. The benefits will be tremendous.
The problem many brands are facing is not being able to connect with their customers on an emotional level. Social networks can help by humanizing the company brand. This is very important and can transform your brand from a logo, corporate name to a living entity.
Social networks will also help B2B companies in their brand awareness mission in the sense that they drive traffic. When maximized, social media sites are excellent at generating leads and driving traffic to external landing pages or websites. It is a very organic method of traffic acquisition and a very valuable one.
Social networks can also be used to find out what people are saying about brands and use that knowledge to improve Brands’ processes, communications, or features.
Social networks improve B2B brands’ visibility on the web
To be visible on the web is essential for a quality web marketing strategy. Since late 2009, Google and Bing have integrated even in their search results of messages on some social networks. The content published (by users, professionals or individuals), has thus a real added value.
Companies must create quality content, encourage contributions and regularly update their news. Here more than ever content is king. This knowledge should always be kept in mind.
Visibility can also be achieved by demonstrating its credibility and expertise. The exchange of expertise and mutual support is what’s most important on social networks: by positioning itself as an expert in a specific field, the company can participate in its exchanges bringing real qualitative and relevant answers, and develop this way its brand awareness.
Social networks: the B2B partner to identify and attract customers and talents
Social networks use a real strategy for identifying and attracting new quality clients. These social networks allow easy access to recent (as they are published by the contact itself), valid and complete information: Often , users do not hesitate to disclose their personal details, email, phone. .. Companies with time, clear objectives and respecting the main actions that are required to attract customers (http://www.marketingdonut.co.uk/marketing/online-marketing/social-media-and-online-networking/how-to-use-social-media-to-attract-consumers ) can easily get great benefits of being present on social networks.
With social network companies not only attract customers. They also attract talents. And this is a major asset. What is a company without great new talents? Isn’t it easier to recruit talents, if they are already attracted by this very company?
Still not convinced about the use of the social networks?
Please go and listen to : https://soundcloud.com/linkhumans/jonathan-wichmann-orca-social