Effectiveness of B2B Social Media Marketing

Social media in a business setting has begged the question…how does this whole thing translate into sales? It’s a great yet complex question.

Now that social media has been around for a short while, marketers are beginning to understand how to use the medium to its full effectiveness. And hard selling via Facebook, Twitter, etc. is not the way to go. In fact, it’s a definite no-no to over-saturate your company’s blog, Twitter, & Facebook feed with advertisements and overt sales propositions. Using these social networks tastefully for business requires one to “know their audience”. It’s ok to inform your social networks about your company and engage in conversation- that’s the point. Show your personality.

Social media for business gets even more tricky in a B2B arena. Businesses are especially less patient with other businesses blatantly selling on social networks. B2B companies need to look at their social media strategies as branding devices rather than a virtual member of the sales team.

A recent social media marketing survey shows what B2B companies are identifying as the most effective uses of social media. The sample size was approx. 1,800 people.

Most Effective Uses of Social Media for B2B Companies

Influence brand reputation- 39%
Improve search engine rankings- 38%
Increase brand awareness- 37%
Increase website traffic- 33%
Generate leads- 17%
Improve internal communications- 17%
Increase online sales- 13%

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While Social Networking Keeps Growing, Are You Missing Opportunities?

The stats are enormous. Twitter recently has surpassed 20 billion tweets and Facebook now has over 400 million users, 175 million of which log in everyday. It’s no wonder why all of the marketing hype centers around social media. It’s growth is fast and relentless yet experts are still trying to figure out how to be as opportunistic as possible in reaching an audience that is spending a huge amount of time social networking. The focus has shifted for businesses and advertisers to try and join in the online conversations. After all, there’s no sense in spending marketing dollars on television commercials for example, when consumers are using commercial time to engage in more social networking, unless it’s the Super Bowl.

A recent Nielson study reveals that social networking eats up twice as much time on the web as any other activity. Facebook and Twitter account for 22.7% of time spent online with the next closest activity being online gaming, 10.2%. The stats also show the degree to which social networking is taking the place of other forms of online communication. Both email and instant messaging have seen a significant drop as an online activity. Here’s the full stats from the study.

So what does it take to convince company to start marketing using social media? If you’ve been thinking about getting your feet wet for a while, now is the time to put your toes in the water! You don’t have to completely dive in but with growth like this, you owe it to your marketing strategy. Businesses shy away from social media largely because there’s so much out there and the results are hard to quantity. So start with the basics:

1. Create a Facebook profile: Try to connect with ‘friends’ that are relevant to your business. Most likely whether you’re B2B or B2C, your customers are already on Facebook. It’s relatively user friendly and not cumbersome to manage.

2. Open a Twitter account: Tweeting is fun and easy- it doesn’t take a lot of time out of your day. Again, you might find that your customers have already joined the Twitter universe.

3. Start a company blog: Blogging can be a great benefit to a business by increasing customer and visitor loyalty and driving more traffic to your company’s website. Decide on a focus for your blog, and write awesome content that will keep people coming back.

There are so many great resources online that will help you begin your social media endeavor and down the line, sharpen your social networking skills. Check out Mashable and Social Media Examiner.

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Ways to Use Social Media

  1. Buy Ad space on social media sites.
  2. Build a base of customer/client connections on LinkedIn. Request introductions to other potential customers/clients through these original connections to continue to expand your base.
  3. Start a company blog.  Many companies blog to keep in touch with their customers.  For example Toyota has an” Open Road Blog.”
  4. Start actively blogging on related blogs or on the blogs of interested individuals in our target market.
  5. Build an interactive Webpage as an offshoot to your main page to further explain a new product service and to generate interest.
  6. Join Facebook and create an interesting profile.
  7. Provide links to dig, reddit and RSS feeds.
  8. Connect through twitter
  9. Build a MySpace page and use it to blog and post videos.