Today, social media offers B2B marketers significant, quantifiable and predictable results. This column explores the top four reasons B2B marketers should engage in a proactive, social media program, and offers specific tips on getting started.
1. Influence Your Online Reputation
Social media represents an open forum. Whether you participate or not — your industry, and probably your business, are being discussed online. You may not like it, but customers definitely have the power to share their opinions, and they do: the good, the bad and the ugly.
At a minimum, all businesses should monitor this conversation. This is a great way to “keep your thumb on the pulse” of your customers’ thoughts, feelings needs and desires.
2. Better Position Your Brand
Even if users aren’t directly engaging with your brand online, social networks provide a significant opportunity to build B2B brand awareness, improve your market positioning, and increase purchase intent.
According to a recent eMarketer article, 70% of experienced social marketers track the number of brand mentions across social networks as a key marketing success metric.
A study conducted by DDB Worldwide and OpinionWay Research indicates that 36% of people who follow a brand on Facebook are more likely to purchase from that brand than before.
3. Engage Prospects & Customers
In addition to brand building, social networks are a great place to engage with prospects and customers.
Forrester has published a report on B2B social marketing, and has been blogging on this topic as well. Their research indicates: business buyers are increasingly “going social” when they first realize that they have a problem and are looking to learn from and interact with experts in their problem space.
This means that B2B marketers should use social media to interact with prospects earlier in their problem-solving cycles in order to demonstrate thought-leadership and expertise.
Another way for B2B marketers to engage with prospects is via highly-targeted social advertising channels. For example, LinkedIn’s DirectAds Program allows you to target professionals by industry, company size, seniority, job function, location and more.
While this type of ad targeting generates significantly fewer impressions and clicks than traditional PPC advertising (on Google, for example)… respondents tend to be much more qualified and many B2B marketers realize a superior ROI.
4. Improve Customer Service
Social media channels allow your company to monitor opinions, reach out to customers on a personal level, and let them know their feedback (whether positive or negative) is always being taken into consideration.
Here are four suggestions for handling negative customer feedback obtained via social channels:
- Be completely transparent and honest (i.e. admit your mistake)
- Do something remarkable to rectify the situation.
- Proactively respond. Try to recreate a similar story and conclude with a better outcome.
- Don’t make the same mistake twice!
Don’t Miss Your Social Opportunity
Social Media is definitely maturing as a legitimate B2B marketing tool. If you’re still ignoring this channel, you’re missing out on a terrific way to cost-effectively build your brand, improve your reputation, engage with prospects and customers, and improve your overall customer service.
B2B marketers… it’s time to get social.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.