Why should B-to-B companies use Social media? Oliver Young from Forrester Research sums it up, “Marketers who embrace social media will outdistance competition, build community following and boost loyalty.” Is there a better time than now to start making that impression? People are still buying things, and with budgets being tight, decisions are often made on relationships. I’m a firm believer that folks have to know, like and trust you before they start buying from you.
Laura Ramos, a marketing analyst for Forrester Research agrees in a recent interview with BtoB Online Marketing. She says today that most B-to-B buzz is around driving awareness, but it will ultimately have a bigger impact on things like customer loyalty and advocacy. With social media, you can give customers a way to engage with other customers and with like-minded individuals that can talk about the best products and services. Seeing a community like this is a much more compelling experience for prospective buyers than a case study or a pre-selected happy customer. Ramos went on to say that for B-to-B companies, social success will be about creating communities. The relationship is important, not the channel.
According to Lee Odden in a recent presentation at the Online Marketing Summit in Minneapolis, “Despite such optimism and benefits, social media is new territory for most companies. The notion of engaging customers in social is a new paradigm and will take a shift in thinking for most organizations to adopt. Companies that properly plan and implement social programs can reap a variety of benefits,” said Odden. These include:
- Building thought leadership
- Improving customer relationships
- Improving recruiting
- Reducing customer service costs
- Improving search engine results
- Increasing media coverage
- Influencing sales
So what’s a company supposed to do to take advantage of these opportunities?
- Identify a niche
- Make a plan
- Get senior management to buy in
- Get started by listening first
- When you do start communicating, make sure you always answer the question, what’s in it for them?
The opportunies are there for B-to-B marketers. Let’s make sure you take advantage of them.
Other posts that might interest you, Improving sales productivity and collaboration with social media – Laggards steps to success, by Nicky Jameson