Marketing your B2B with Social Media

by Morgan Siem on May 31, 2011

in Social Media

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In this post I’ll address the differences between B2B and B2C marketing on social media. The original question that was posed to me is below:

I am adding social media to many client’s integrated marketing campaigns, although I’m still not sure it’s a major element in B2B marketing…

There are some fundamental differences between B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer). The most important differences have to do with the context or frame of mind of the purchaser. For B2C, the purchaser is an individual who is making the decision on his or her own behalf. Typically this comes with very little responsibility tacked on to the decision to buy. In a B2B purchasing decision, the purchaser is typically buying in greater quantity and has had a lot of responsibility placed on him or her in regards to product selection.

Often, a B2B purchaser will have to answer to many key stakeholders within the company as to why he or she chose your product:

  • Why is this one the best one on the market?
  • How does the pricing of this product compare to competitors?
  • Why is this purchase justified against our bottom line? Aka, is it absolutely necessary?
  • What can we hope to gain from purchasing this new product?
  • Are our competitors using it?
  • What other companies have recommended it?
  • Does the company we’re buying from offer good customer support?

What this means for you as a marketer is that there is a very important context for B2B purchases to take place – RESEARCH. B2B purchases are made after a lot of research has been performed. So, your marketing opportunity is to provide answers that people are seeking when they do their research. In other words, provide them with the arguments, talking points, facts and stats that they’ll need in order to convince their internal team members. This can be done through a wide variety of marketing channels, including social media. Blogs, LinkedIn and YouTube can be really good places for B2B companies to start out with social media:

  • Write blog posts that answer your FAQs
  • Write blog posts addressing problems that your clients face and how your product supports their needs
  • Write price comparison blog posts
  • Write blog posts comparing your capabilities with your competitors’
  • Use your blog to publish case studies of results that your clients have seen as a result of using your product
  • Post product demo videos on YouTube
  • Post client testimonial videos
  • Join LinkedIn discussions about your industry
  • Use the LinkedIn Products & Services tab as a showcase
  • Encourage clients to recommend your brand / product through LinkedIn recommendations

These recommendations are specific to B2B marketing. B2C brands often do better on Facebook and Twitter. Take, for example, M&M’s. Consumers who are considering purchasing M&M’s don’t need to read entire blog posts and LinkedIn recommendations to convince them to make the purchase. So, often when it comes to creating content, B2B companies have a leg up over B2C brands that can sometimes run out of things to say.

Use the marketing channels that make sense for the audience you’re trying to reach. There are plenty of opportunities for both B2C and B2B companies to effectively use social media. Here is a great resource for more information about using social media for B2B: LinkedIn | B2B Social Media Group

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

KeAnne June 1, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Nice post. I believe that social media is actually a better fit for B2B due to the focus on relationships that are so important for B2B. I think that Twitter and Facebook will get there as tools for B2b as mobile becomes even more ubiquitous and the line between personal and professional continues to erode.

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Morgan Siem June 1, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Great points, KeAnne! It’ll be interesting to see how things develop. Glad you liked the post.

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Jon Kenney June 1, 2011 at 1:45 pm

One thing I like about using social media for both B2B and B2C is it’s ability to provide a more personalized experience for the consumer you are trying to reach. There is opportunity for in depth interaction with a brand.

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Morgan Siem June 1, 2011 at 3:51 pm

That’s why we like it too. :) And it’s what’s changing the way businesses of all kinds market to their audiences.

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