Right now, social media is right at the fashionable heart of marketing. You can’t move for tips and advice on how to utilize this most exciting of play-things, and all of the time the biggest brands are falling over each other to saturate the likes of Twitter and Facebook with their advertising message.
For the B2B marketer however, it can feel like sitting outside the door of a party that you haven’t been invited to. Sure you can hear the sounds of everybody inside having a great time, but you are left wondering how to score a ticket to this most exciting of marketing experiences.
Social media has always been a tough nut to crack for B2B, with the very nature of individuals sharing their likes and dislikes not always feeling very compatible with the world of marketing databases and corporate gifts.
Social networks are where people go to gush about their favorite brands or show off to their friends about the latest cool thing they have bought, and this can leave the B2B marketer scratching their head and wondering what is in it for them.
So brace yourself for some more advice, as we explore what is in it for the B2B marketer, and how they can reap the benefits of the social media world.
Just One Question
Whoever you market to, whether it’s individual consumers or businesses, you should always ask yourself the most fundamental of questions, why do you want to utilize social media marketing? There is only one correct answer, “because that’s where my audience is”.
The answer to this question will dictate everything for you going forward. It will help you to decide which, if any, of the social networks you should be targeting. It will help to dictate your message, your tone, your strategy, whether you are trying to sell to people, whether you are trying to brand build, everything comes down to where your audience are and what they are doing when they are there.
Don’t get drawn into the “fad” aspect of social media, see it as just one tool in your arsenal of communicating directly to your customer base.
Once you have completed this process of identifying which social networks your target audience are using and what they are doing there, it is time for you to draw up some realistic expectations, targets and how you hope to achieve them.
Remember the analogy of social media being a tool in your arsenal? Well change that to it being a tool box. Some social networks won’t be suitable for what you are trying to achieve and it is up to you to root through them and find the best ones for you.
LinkedIn is a popular destination for B2B marketers because it is a natural place for business people to meet and discuss more work related matters, whereas Facebook might not be as appropriate given its informal, more friendship based approach.
If you take to Twitter, will anyone really want to listen to you talk about your products and services? Step away a little and talk around your subject and about issues that your target audience will find interesting. Nobody is going to sign up to a sales spiel, become an authority on your target’s subject.
Make It Work for You
One of the main reasons why B2B marketers complain that social media doesn’t work for them is because they find it hard to use it to sell directly to their customers. It is here where they are making their biggest mistake.
Social media is so full of opportunities and if you look at it purely as a sales outlet you are not making the most of them. More than anything else, it is a gold mine of valuable information.
Are you still sending out mailers addressed to “Buying Manager” rather than using LinkedIn to find out their name, address, office, phone number and direct email? Oh look, there is a list of groups that they participate in, I wonder if my target has asked any questions or started any discussions in there that I might be able to contribute to…
Social media gives you the opportunity to know your targets better than ever before and introduce yourself in a non-buying situation before you approach them in a sales capacity. You can use it to improve your conversion rates for other marketing, build yourself as an authority in your industry and communicate more easily than ever before.
The opportunities available all stem from asking that first question, why do I want to utilise social media marketing. Finding where your audience are and what they use social media for will dictate your whole strategy.
If you are still scratching around looking to use social media as your new shop, you are missing the massive opportunities that are available for the B2B marketer.