Business-to-Business Marketing Using Social Media

Social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, receive a great deal of attention for their uses in business-to-consumer scenarios. In these situations, social media sites can act as a way to build customer relationships, obtain market research, identify trends, etc. If your company operates business-to-business, traditional social media marketing techniques, however, rarely make the grade. In addition, using business-to-consumer techniques to appeal to a business customer can even devalue your company’s brand image, making your efforts look haphazard and dated. For the business-to-business company, social media presents its own advantages and requires its own techniques:

One of the most important things you can do to build your business is to build awareness. Using social media you can do things like post pictures, link to pictures and news stories, and post links to your company’s profile on industry sites. For example, if you have a fitness center, you could include pictures of your gym’s facilities and profiles of the trainers you employ. You could also post links to any news coverage your gym receives and post links to your gym’s profile on any local weight loss groups. Alternatively, if you sell steel buildings, you could post pictures of the various types of steel buildings you offer and the assorted ways your buildings are used (e.g. warehouse, grain storage, soccer stadium). In addition, you could post links to your company’s profile on group pages centered on farming, industry, fitness centers, etc.

In each example, you are building awareness of the products you offer and the ways in which those products can be used. While you may have many of these elements on your website, including them in your social media will ensure that when someone is looking to fill a need, your company can be found easily.

Broadcast and Engage
More and more people, including business owners and managers, are looking to social media to find information on companies and products before ever using a search engine. As such, having adequate information available where your customers look is critical. An increasing number of businesses are searching for business-to-business companies using the medium of social media, however the level of buy-in is variant – Some companies may do an amazing amount of business through social media while others may only get on social media sites for personal use. One of the easiest ways to catch the attention of the entire range is to broadcast and engage.

Broadcast industry news, trending topics related to your business, new product development, new technology, etc. Essentially, give your potential customers a reason to visit your social media page. The goal is to establish your business as an expert in your industry or, in other words, as an industry resource. Once you have established your company as such, business customers will visit your profile or “friend it” just to get an update on what is happening in the industry.

Further, engage your business customers (current or potential) in the same way. For instance, if you have a graphic design company, you would want to broadcast market research reports and findings, the relative successes clients have had using your services, etc. In addition, you would want to engage your business customers by responding to comments as “the” business, such as you posted the results from the latest Nielsen report and one of your customers writes something like “So, Facebook really is taking over the Internet.” Instead of responding as a friend (e.g. “Yeah, my kids are always on the site”), you would want to respond, “Yeah, apparently, over 50 percent of consumers get on a social media site everyday. Did you know, according to the report, over 60 percent of new business is found one those types of sites?” In this example, you keep the focus on the business and demonstrate your attention to market trends.

Broadcasting and engagement in this way can build your credibility, but social media sites can build your company’s credibility even further. How? By integrating your profile with your customers.

For example, ask your customers to write the comments regarding your products or services on your Facebook wall. Including this sort of element on your Facebook profile is similar to the “Testimonials” pages seen on many websites early on. As the comments are actually posted by your customers, their statements are seen as more genuine than ones you would publish to your website, making your business all the more credible.

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