Why use social media for business-to-business marketing
Business-to-business brands typically resist using social media for marketing. Businesses selling major capital items and complex solutions assume their most effective marketing channel is face-to-face direct selling via a field salesforce, meaning social media is a waste of time.
This viewpoint is not unusual and understandable. Unfortunately, those not familiar with social media channels and how they work, view them as little more than a consumer and personal tool.
As well as this, the tremendous volume of irrelevant content found within social media platforms can easily create cynicism. What such a stance fails to recognise is that social media has many more benefits than simply providing a channel for communicating social activities.
Does social media help SEO?
One of the major benefits, which arguably singlehandedly justifies investment in social platforms, is that Google likes sites that have a strong social media presence. Not only do these sites rank better, but the latest versions of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm show that sites that forgo social media activities are often ignored or ranked lower.
Two-hundred other factors may play their part in search engine rankings, but it’s never wise to anger Google, even slightly. So, here’s how you can stop that and broaden your reach: the reasons why you should make social media one of your marketing tools.
Social media is highly personalised
What makes social media so addictive is that each user shapes their chosen platform to display an endless stream of relevant content. Unsurprisingly, this is highly useful for connecting with your target audience.
If, for example, you are targeting engineers of a specific demographic, LinkedIn – and specifically LinkedIn Groups – may be their primary source of information. Establishing a presence here would mean that you can target a useful and potentially lucrative audience directly.
As well as being shaped by the user, social media offers a personalised means of engaging with target personas. Communication becomes two-way, unlike traditional ‘push’ marketing, and customers will feel less like they’re being given the hard sell.
In this way, social media resembles face-to-face sales; although it also allows your stakeholder to target you and for you to respond quickly and cost-effectively. Interacting with your audience this way gives your brand a greater chance of being viewed favourably.
Are social media platforms cost effective?
This benefit does not mean it is cheap or low cost; an effective and engaging social media presence requires substantial investment as it is labour-intensive. Posting on social media does not attract a fee unless you intend to use sponsored content. Please see our separate blog on paid for online content. Even here content has a low cost of entry, allowing you to control when and by how much you scale up; thus, bringing a significant return on investment.
Social creates a content and media-rich environment
It is easy to see how deploying many types of media, such as audio, video, graphics, and copy, often simultaneously is advantageous. This huge social media benefit means you can interact with customers through their preferred channel.
You could base this decision on sector: one client audience might respond well to video, while a more technical audience will prefer whitepapers. Delivering these through social platforms creates a central platform from which to deliver personalised content quickly to multiple audiences. You can then track how these people have interacted, leading us onto the last benefit in our list of social media for B2B marketing benefits.
Social media allows you to measure marketing campaign activity
As with other digital channels, social media is highly measurable. Some results are almost instantly available – a high number of likes and shares is a pretty reliable indicator of the appeal of your social media content to your audience. But the most exciting aspect is that social media can be linked to business metrics, including new business leads and sales.
This measurability is crucial for tracking the effectiveness of your content and monitoring your return on investment. Tools are available that aggregate data from several social media platforms alongside analytics data taken from a website, offering a complete picture of performance linked to business KPIs.
Despite these immediate and easily implemented social media gains, some B2B business decisions makers still consider social media as entirely for personal use. As marketers, we are re-educating our clients who hold this outdated view. Ignoring this easy to use marketing channel leaves them at risk of missing key opportunities to engage with a significant section of their target market.