Social Media for B2B companies?
So are Facebook and Twitter a forum for people to post pictures of them doing foolish things or showing what they had for dinner? Is it a sales platform for Coke and Comcast to engage consumers? Can B2B companies use them as part of their marketing mix? The answer is yes to all these questions, but the last one is up for debate.
Social Media experts debate whether B2B companies can benefit from being the space. It is an obvious value for companies such as consumer products manufacturers and entertainment firms since they are speaking directly with their client base on a personal level. But don’t B2B companies still ultimately serve people: especially small businesses? Firms don’t have robots that work in purchasing, operations (well maybe operations) IT and human resources do they? There are still sales being made and vendors being chosen through good ol’ fashioned conversation. People are still talking to people. Isn’t that what Social Media is all about?
The question that businesses need to ask is what Social Media channel fits them best. Obviously LinkedIn is a business-oriented channel that really benefits Human Resource departments and recruiting firms. But what about Facebook, Twitter, Google+, blogs, etc? These can be great tools to employ even if you are in the B2B space. Some research into these areas can give some great insight into where your clients and customers are congregating and communicating. With this data in hand, you can put together a strategy for your entry into these channels, engaging your clients and increasing awareness of your brand, which ultimately can achieve increased revenue, market share and profit.
A great example of a small business that engages in Social Media very well is a local IT and cloud services company here in Denver. They are present in Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and blogs quite frequently. They keep their clients informed of upcoming events that would be important to them. These events range from new product roll outs to strategic planning sessions focused on increasing revenue. They also are the first line of communication for their clients when some sort of technical glitch is discovered to keep them aware of potential problems. In the IT field, it is critical for them to be on top of customer service challenges. What kind of image would you have of a company who informed you of a service outage prior to you even knowing about it? Even going so far as to walk you through how to fix the problem? It would give them an authentic, trustworthy and reliable image of that company, their people and brand. Exactly what a company wants to create brand loyalty.
In our marketing and advertising agency, we use Social Media quite well. Through Facebook and this blog, we communicate with our client base about current projects we have, past projects we are proud of and industry trends that can help them spark a creative moment or improve their small business. I know we could do more with the Twitterverse and that is definitely a strategy we plan to employ.
Even in the B2B space, we all need to realize we still are ultimately doing business with people. Our companies are brand that represent us in a professional and creative way, but we need to give a human aspect to them as well. We aren’t all robots and algorithms.
— Adam OLeary, President