Incorporating social media into a B2B marketing strategy

Social media is all the rage, and companies that have expressed concerns about it need to start embracing it within their B2B marketing strategies if they want to drive traffic to their businesses, Andy Lombard wrote in an article for Marketing Land. Social media has been proven to provide and convert leads and attract customers in unique ways.

B2B catching on

B2B sales teams are slowly beginning to recognize social media as the effective marketing tool it is and how it all ties in with their business planning. Companies that don’t utilize the platforms may be leaving themselves in the proverbial dust as competitors succeed by jumping in feet first, Lombard stated.

Facebook and Twitter get results

Companies using Facebook and Twitter to let consumers know what they do and products they have available have an advantage over businesses that haven’t discovered the attributes of the technologies. The Social Media B2B blog’s Shankar Ganesh wrote the days of phone calls and emails being good enough methods to contact customers are long gone. In fact, many businesses receive tweets from Twitter users while they’re on the phone with the company, Ganesh explained. For companies that don’t have access to this and other social media platforms, the future doesn’t bode well without this method of marketing.

Why use social media at all?

Companies utilize social media because it contains a wealth of information and data that can help a business target an audience and improve customer loyalty to the brand. Social media marketing can be measured immediately if a company possesses the knowledge to do so and the information on buyer behavior garnered can prove to be invaluable, Lombard wrote. In fact, the most recent numbers from Michael Stelzner’s 2012 Social Media Examiner report showed that 68 percent of B2B businesses surveyed were using social media marketing to look into buyer insight and trends at that time. Also, 83 percent of those B2B companies said they use social media to heighten their visibility into the marketplace. News releases, blogs from executives and product demos have all been featured in social media campaigns to great success, according to Lombard.

Buyers are all over social media

Social media drives such business-related areas of concern like recruiting and networking, not to mention research, so many company executives are using it every day. Industry publication Inside View stated that companies with active blogs on social media generate 67 percent more leads and Twitter users garner two times as many leads as businesses that don’t use the social platform. Lombard suggested that being credible, relevant and interesting on social media can provide almost immediate benefits.

A recent Ad​ Age article by Mark Bergen showed that 80 percent of B2B businesses will be adding more digital spending to their bottom lines. That’s up from 67 percent last year, and most of the increase will go toward social media. Bergen’s study also showed that 84 percent of the more than 1,800 respondents are using Facebook, but trends are indicating more of a shift toward Twitter for its immediacy and interest among a younger, more technically savvy buyer demographic.

In the wake of the Bergen survey with Ad​ Age, a Fast Company story by Amber Mac suggested that businesses approach the social media market with caution and planning. Company executives should know their goals, tactics and business objectives before leaping head-long into the social media morass. Not being prepared can have disastrous results and all the leads garnered could be ineffectual if a comprehensive plan is not in place to conduct these marketing strategies. Mac also said putting the right people in charge to lead the plan is crucial to the campaign’s success. If a marketing wizard who knows nothing about the Internet or social media is at the helm of the campaign, there’s a good chance the efforts will fail. Mac suggested content marketing is a solid lead driver. Recent industry studies, showed that 89 percent of IT buyers want to see content that is vibrant, exciting and informative, Mac noted. Using content marketing designed to attract new customers will generate interest, provide word of mouth referrals and generally boost the lead potential far more than no social media marketing plan at all.

As B2B companies look to drive traffic and attract new customers, stepping into the 21st century and embracing social media as a marketing tool can net huge numbers of new leads, who, if turned into customers through social media marketing, could positively impact the company bottom line and raise the profile of the brand. That contributes to improved customer loyalty.