A question we are asked regularly is “What is the role of social media in marketing B2B companies?”. B2B marketers worry that that they are not doing the right thing with their social media and fret that they are missing a trick. This is hardly surprising as we hear and see figures that tell us that around a half of all companies win some business from social media. This is very different to saying that around half of new business comes from social media. We would estimate that new business acquisition from social media is no more than 5%. That said, social media is set to become more important in the future and we need to become adept with the tools.
Our interest in this blog is not the power of social media for acquiring new customers; rather it is how it can be used to enhance B2B customer experience. Let’s step back for a minute and think about the fundamentals of social media. Websites, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn platforms are all opportunities for enhancing relationships. At the end of the day, it is good relationships that deliver good customer experiences. This means that social media should have an important part to play in B2B marketing even though it doesn’t pull in lots of new customers.
Stuck behind a computer all day there's a good chance that your B2B customer will turn to social media at some stage to have a break. Here are 5 of the most important social media platforms and how you can use them to enhance your B2B customer experience.
1. Your website is your lounge, your shop window and it should be your customers’ first port of call
Interactions are an essential part of social media. Someone visiting your website may simply want information. Information is a basic component of a website. In addition, the website should seek to engage with customers. This means it must be regularly updated and stimulate thoughts and comments. A blog is an obvious tool for this purpose. Companies supplying the construction industry have recognised this. They know that their customers are part of the community that want to share ideas and tips. Screwfix, the UK company that keeps the construction industry together with its fastenings, has built a special website (https://community.screwfix.com/forums/) that encourages different groups to talk. They have forums for builders, carpenters, engineers, plumbers, painters, and kitchen fitters. As an illustration of the popularity of the blog, the Screwfix Electricians Forum has generated over 40,000 discussions and over half a million messages. Now that is engaging.
2. Twitter helps you stay in touch with news
Look how Donald Trump has used Twitter to build his campaign and engage with his public. It provides a vehicle for quick hits and soundbites. You don’t need to say much but you should say something often and something meaningful. Admittedly the numbers may be small to start with but with a regular dose of news and chat you could soon have 1000 interested follows.
3. Through LinkedIn you can be in touch with like-minded people wherever they are
A third of people in business are on LinkedIn. Networking in business has always been important. Chambers of commerce and conferences are still well attended. However, they take time; and time is money in business. LinkedIn can be used to locate potential customers. It is an easy means of demonstrating the quality of your staff. A LinkedIn company page is a great place to present content aimed directly at your target customers.
4. Use Facebook to obtain massive exposure
With over 2 billion users, Facebook provides a scattergun. Ads on Facebook can deliver a good return on investment. B2B marketers can, if they want, narrow down and focus on potential customers using Facebook’s sophisticated targeting which can pinpoint people with certain job titles. A Facebook page is a complement to your company website.
5. YouTube shows your products in action
The great thing about YouTube is that anyone can watch it; your target audience doesn’t have to sign up to view content. It provides an opportunity to personalise your company by telling a story about how customers use your great products or services. B2B companies need to educate their customers in the best way to use their products. DeWALT, a leading manufacturer of professional power tools, has published 375 videos to showcase their products.
The future of B2B social media
Social media has not replaced phone calls or personal visits to customers. It is an additional means for sharing photos, opinions, and gossip in real-time. It is transforming the way we live and the way we do business.
Here are three top, takeaway tips for enhancing your company’s social media customer experience:
1. Listen & monitor conversations around your brand as widely as you can; you never know where customers are airing their experiences in public! These are the things you should be talking about on social media.
2. Engage with your customers in a timely manner (next day replies are often too late!) Social media is all about real-time conversation, so whether it is good or bad, don’t be afraid to talk. And talk often, otherwise you will lose the momentum.
3. Stay human - because you’re talking to humans. When using social media for customer experience use a conversational tone to show off your personality. We should never forget that what we are doing through social media is holding conversations with our customers.