Social Media is the topic of the day for most marketing strategists today - seemingly invaluable and indispensable for everybody. No doubt, there are good reasons for that position in the B2C world, offering unprecedented ways of direct customer interaction and the intriguingly deep insight into their "data". But what about B2B? What limitations and rules apply?
A successful approach to applying Social Media to the B2B world has to comply with specific and unique properties of that business mode. A clear and committed strategy is inevitable. Three of the topics to keep in mind:
1. All enthusiasm about the power of Social Media aside, there are significant differences between the B2B and B2C business worlds. Where emotions are regularly and sometimes exclusively addressed in B2C, there is much less room for them in B2B businesses. That leaves little room for emotional ties between customers and products or brands.
2. Special components, e.g. of a machine, usually also have very confined target audiences. However, the smaller a "community" is, the more difficult it is to keep it active and alive. With very little to no activity in a network, people quickly lose interest. Additionally, it is important to understand that Facebook is not the only social network around.
3. What are the specific benefits and advantages that your social network offers to its participants? How relevant are the intended topics for the target audience? Without reasonably good motivators, it is difficult to keep the community's interest going. Coupons and draws are usually not enough.
Direct customer communication has always been important and the possibilities of the digital world will further increase its value. If "Social Media" is understood as "listen to your customers more closely", it can be the gateway to important differentiating factors. Support intensive businesses could e.g. launch user forums . This would enable participants to get answers to issues like the installation or configuration of complex units or components more quickly and research solutions without contacting the company's technical support. Used strategically, feedback from the community could also be used to generate valuable ideas for further product development. On the other hand, be warned: the mandatory openness might conflict with your corporate culture, and you need to keep an eye on confidentiality issues. Lastly, Social Media does not come for free! Whatever form you chose, prepare to invest a lot of time.
To keep in mind: even if platforms like twitter seem useless for your business, nowadays they need to be understood as boosters to your website's page rank. Use them for search engine optimization (SEO).
Conclusion: Social Media can be valuable in B2B scenarios. However, it does not make sense to just add a presence in one of the large networks. Instead, customer benefits and value should guide your venture. Without a clear concept, any Social Media approach is doomed to fail for your business. We would be happy to support you along the way. Contact us!