With all the focus on digital media and social networking these days, your company might be wondering whether it should get involved as well. If you own or work for a B2B company, you probably wonder whether it is even worth your time to explore these ventures. Social media tends to be dominated by individuals and big name B2C brands like Nike, Oreo, Netflix, and Dove. Is there any place for your business, or will you just get lost in the noise?
Luckily, one of the best things about social media is that it allows anyone to be heard. No matter how unique or strange your business, you will likely find some sort of following. A 2015 report from the Pew Research Center on Social Media usage found that “65% of American adults and 90% of young adults (18-29) use social networking sites.” With numbers like those, it would be incredible if your customers weren’t already on these sites! How can you reach these people and make the most use of what social media has to offer?
Pick Your Poison
There are too many social media sites to list them all, and you would be crazy to try to use all of them. Figure out which one is most appropriate for your business and start there. Don’t overwhelm yourself by creating five or six accounts all at once! Begin with just one, see how well it works (or doesn’t work), and go from there. Some good questions to ask yourself when picking a site include:
- Where do my typical clients spend the most time?
- Do I know how to use this platform well? Is there a learning curve?
- How much time will I have to spend on this each week?
- Where are my competitors most active?
These answers should hopefully point you in a certain direction such as Facebook, Twitter, or whichever is best for you. I highly recommend doing your own independent research on the various sites that you are considering most. One of the best things to do is type in your closest competitors and browse their social media presence (if it exists). If they have a lot of followers and plenty of engagement, you know that site might be a good choice.
Your choice doesn’t have to be final. Social media is great because you can delete your profile at any time, and that’s that. Don’t feel like it’s a ball and chain. At first, treat it like a test run. Pretend you are just trying it out, rather than trying to craft the perfect post every single time.
Real World Examples
I can write all day about how useful social media can be, but it is hard to beat real examples. Social media isn’t about closing sales or gathering a whole new contact list. These might be your goals, but in general, social media helps build up brand awareness and lets your customers connect with you in a different way. It definitely plays a key role in a great inbound marketing strategy. Let’s see how some B2B companies are using it to augment their marketing campaigns.
Salesforce is a massive B2B company specializing in cloud computing and CRM. They are active on several social media platforms, but their Facebook page is a good example for any company. They post on an almost daily basis and have amassed a huge following of 550,789! They vary their posts between company photos, interesting articles, and any relevant information.
Above are two recent posts from their page. As you can see both of these posts were popular and great examples of what any B2B company could post. Neither of these are directly promoting the business or showing off a product, but both posts are engaging and interesting. The one on the left is celebrating the anniversary of the company, which thanks all of the customers over the years. There were many comments on this post of fans showing their appreciation right back to Salesforce. Even if your business hasn’t been around long, you can still post milestones and give thanks to your customers.
The post on the right links to a survey on their website. Social media is a wonderful tool for cross promoting things like surveys or offers. It is a great way to get feedback from your fans and much easier than asking every customer face to face. You can also hold contests on your social media sites or hold giveaways, which will help build your following and increase your reputation.
Facebook is a nice choice for businesses because it is the largest and most popular site. You can share photos, videos, or almost anything else you can think of. It is a nice place to begin your adventure into social media because it is very user friendly and most people already know how to use it from a personal standpoint. For B2B companies, Facebook is great because so many other businesses have their own pages. A negative might be that many companies aren’t that active.
Intel is a B2B tech company absolutely dominating on Twitter. They have a staggering 4.49 million (!!!) followers, which goes to show that even if your main product is a microchip, you can make it on social media. Every business should take note of Intel’s twitter page because of how well it is run. They are very active but not overwhelmingly so, and they post a happy mix of self-promotion, retweets, photos, articles, and videos.
The tweet above shows how they make use of current events and popular hashtags. Even though you might not immediately think of Intel when thinking about basketball, they found a way to be relevant. Think about this with your own business. Figure out how to be relevant to fans and how to be interesting.
Here is another example from Intel showing another way to use Twitter. They are giving a shout out to a company they like and linking to an article they wrote on the topic. The company (Jewelbots) commented their thanks as well as retweeting the post. Posts like this not only build your following but also help another business!
FedEx is essential for many businesses because it handles all their shipping, and although making shipments does not sound like a very interesting thing for a photography platform like Instagram, FedEx is proving that thought wrong. They have 40,600 followers, and every single one of their posts receives hundreds of likes and many comments.
The first photo on the left is an example of user generated content. FedEx posts the photo on their own page but gives credit to the original photographer (in this case, a restaurant owner who uses FedEx). Many of the photos on their page were actually taken by their customers. This is a good way to show appreciation for your fans and to save yourself time if you don’t have any to spare. Of course, this only works if you have loyal fans, who want to contribute.
The second photo is a classic TBT (throwback Thursday) photo. Many people and businesses receive a lot of love by sharing old photos. FedEx posted this photo of their old fleet of airplanes from back in the day, and their fans absolutely loved seeing this glimpse into the past. Fans like seeing stuff along these lines, which gives them a further peek into your business. Behind the scenes photos are other great ones to post to show your followers what goes on inside the office. FedEx also does this by showing pictures inside their cargo planes or in their trucks.
What are you waiting for?
You have seen some of the options out there and examples of B2B companies using these platforms, so now you should see that social media is useful. An industry is only boring if you say it is. If shipping, computer chip, and cloud software companies can all use social media to their advantage than there is no reason you can’t as well. They might have the advantage of being big brands, but there are plenty of other big businesses that don’t do well on these sites. Remember, everyone starts out at zero, so don’t get discouraged right away! If you are sharing amazing and unique content, eventually you will build a great audience.