Three (or four) golden rules for B2B social media marketing

Here’s an interesting read from Niall Cook on the Three Tenets of B2B Social Media, offering “three main principles for marketers in business-to-business industries looking to harness social media.”

Many B2B companies and marketers struggle to initially see the purpose and benefits of social media (if this sounds like you then we recently wrote about Why Social Media Matters For Successful B2B), or once on board, fail to utilise the medium correctly. In his post, Cook focuses on the social relationships within B2B marketing with three basic ideas:

1. “Small communities matter.” It’s easy to compare a B2B social world with a B2C one and come to the conclusion that social media is better tailored to consumers than businesses as customers. This is just not true when there are so many small and influential communities specifically tailored around different subjects and industries. If anything, a B2B company has a more focused group of customers to engage with. And another bonus of a small community is the trust and weight that members carry in terms of word of mouth and recommendation. Your only real hurdle is finding the right community for your business.

2. “Virtual and physical relationships augment each other.” Another advantage of the B2B world is the increased likelihood that you may have already forged a ‘real life’ relationship with some of your online acquaintances, or at the very least attended the same trade shows, have links through other businesses and companies and members. Because your business world is smaller, you have a better chance to strengthen individual relationships with clients and peers both on and offline.

3. “‘Social’ is not the same as ‘personal’.” Keeping your social activity appropriate at work is one of the first things to learn when using social media – that doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly, humorous, individual or that you can’t interact on a one-to-one level with customers and clients. Imagine you are at a conference, a trade show or a meeting – turn on that level of ‘social’  interaction when you are working online and keep both a professional and approachable face on when using social media.

We would add another tenet to Cook’s list, which is: “Make yourself useful!” Consumers approach social media from a perspective of getting a good deal, a freebie, becoming part of a community or latching on to a particular brand/lifestyle or idea. Their needs are generally met quickly and on a short term basis according to what they are looking for. Businesses, on the other hand, are looking to forge long-lasting and beneficial relationships with suppliers, industry peers and service providers. They don’t need a quick fix, they need support, advice and to be able to trust who they are working with. By providing your B2B customers with plenty of information, fresh content, plentiful advice, efficient customer services and a friendly ear, you will become their most useful asset online.

If you are a B2B company or marketer, what have you found most useful and beneficial when using social media for your business?

 

About Ikroh SEO tm

Ikroh has over 35 years of experience in the industry.

Why social media matters for successful B2B

Many B2B companies have been slow on the uptake to integrate social media into their marketing strategy. Even though most internet businesses appreciate the benefits of search engine optimisation and web analytics, it seems that the B2B crowd have been tentative to invest in social media. Perhaps it’s a case of not understanding how social media can fit into a B2B world – commercial and B2C companies are embracing social media marketing with open arms, and with successful and positive results, but it’s often difficult to see how a B2B company can utilise social media to a cost-effective degree.

However, it seems that B2B companies are catching on – social media marketing budgets are slowly increasing, and are predicted to double by 2012. Currently, social media marketing budgets make up an average of 3-7% of B2B budgets, and the main reason for reluctance lies in measuring ROI. What many businesses fail to realise, however, is the power of social media does not necessarily translate into hard figures; social media is a method to build your business online, to increase your brand strength and your reputation, to promote positive word-of-mouth and create worthwhile relationships with clients. All these attributes bring success to your business, even though you may not be able to put a percentage next to them on a spreadsheet…

Every customer, whether consumer or business-based, begins their journey to an online purchase with a search. They google, research, browse, read reviews and compare prices. Nowadays social media has become an integral part in the journey to purchase, bringing their peers into the mix, asking advice, comparisons, opinions and experiences. Whereas in simple B2C business, the customer’s aim is generally a product, in the B2B world, clients may be looking simply for information, a solution to a problem or a specific service. This, however, makes social media no less important in that process – in fact, it may be even more imperative to B2B success, since the majority of a B2B company’s client-base are long-term and recurrent customers. The relationship matters even more in B2B, and social media is making the creation, development and maintenance of quality and trustworthy business relationships easier and more efficient.

Your clients are looking for answers and long term support and service. If they find relevant (and free) content on your website, your blog, your social media profiles; if they find out that you are attentive to your customers and communicate freely and frequently through social media; if they decide that your company is transparent and your reputation is excellent on the basis of peer recommendation, then they will choose you over another identical company that lacks the social media presence you have.

Social media for B2B is not just about sales. An increase in sales should be a product of your social media efforts, but it is not the sole aim. Along with your services, you should be providing your clients with solutions, free information, advice, experience, connections, great customer service and long-lasting personal relationships. If you want clear-cut ROI stats, you can use analytics to track how and where your customers are sharing your content, and how much traffic you receive from social media platforms, but these figures will not reflect the complex and diverse effects social media has on your brand, your company and your reputation. Only time will show that.

The internet today is vast, and so as consumers and business owners need to utilise social media to find the best deals and forge the most successful business relationships. We graze on information, we follow a trail via search and social media until we find what we need… It’s up to you to ensure your business is at both the beginning and the end of that trail:

* Use SEO to achieve high ranking results and have your website appear at the top of a relevant search, therefore placing yourself at the beginning of a customer’s purchase journey.

* Use social media marketing to secure trust and approachability and end up as the final and definitive choice, therefore placing yourself at the end of a customer’s purchase journey.

 

About Ikroh SEO tm

Ikroh has over 35 years of experience in the industry.

Twitter to Change the World

Well, arguably in many ways it has already, but now social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook are being recruited to tackle anti-social behaviour. Housing associations are using society’s newfound love of social media to try to get through to the younger generation of residents.

In response to an online study by the Chartered Institute of housing showing that most landlords felt they should make improvements in the way they work with young people to deal with anti-social behaviour. Traditional ways of working with communities to deal with anti-social behaviour such as postal or telephone surveys, estate walkabouts and resident meetings are largely ineffective, particularly amongst people who are not at home all day. This has lead social landlords to consider tweeting about nuisance areas and receiving complaints through websites instead of in person.

Social media will likely prove an effective method of reaching out to entire communities at once, particularly the younger generation, but the key is to understand your audience. Landlords need to use the information they collect on their customers to decide how best to target specific groups. Some people will always prefer to discuss issues face to face, but social media is a good way to arrange group meetings – Facebook events are useful for providing information, contact details, as well as an area for people to raise concerns before the meeting.

There could be negative consequences such as an increase in unacceptable behaviour in the community if certain tenant groups are neglected in favour of people who use social media. There is no one avenue of communication that will suit everyone, and it has been shown time and time again that keeping it personal is key. Whether landlords are communicating online or in person, people want to feel that they are talking with a real human being – that personal connection is crucial in combating anti-social behaviour. Conversely, the relative anonymity of social networking sites could encourage some people to come forward and raise issues that they may feel uncomfortable broaching in person.

However, it is important to remember that not everyone has access to the internet. In this day and age it is a somewhat shocking revelation to discover that around half of all UK social housing tenants have never used the internet. Therefore it is important that these digital resources are used alongside the more traditional avenues so that no tenant groups are excluded from the dialogue. Social media should simply provide another way for residents to be heard.

 

About Ikroh SEO tm

Ikroh has over 35 years of experience in the industry.

Social Plugin Tracking

web analytics

The new Social Plugin in Google Analytics allows you to analyse your visitors interact with and share your content via social media. If you have integrated social media buttons such as Google +1, and options to share on Twitter, Facebook and bookmarking sites, you can now use analytics to track these aspects and find out where, how and what your users are clicking…

There are some great tips on how to adapt these options to suit your website and your business on the Google Analytics blog, including examples of how Social Plugin works with Twitter and Facebook plugin APIs, which is really useful to know if you are a developer. They are even offering free t-shirts to “the first 100 developers who integrate a social plugin, or a Content Management plugin that adds social widgets to sites with Google Analytics.” Simply submit your plugin here.

The Social Engagement report in analytics shows you the details of social media sharing, including:

– number of pages viewed per visit

– average time on site

– bounce rate

– visits that included social actions

– number of social actions for each social source

– number of social actions on each site page

Used in conjunction with Google +1 tracking, you can use the information from your website analytics to really help our business expand and grow, utilising and effectively harnessing social media.

About Ikroh SEO tm

Ikroh has over 35 years of experience in the industry.