Why Social Media Works for B2B Companies

Posted by: in Pre-Commerce on November 5, 2011

Originally posted on Pre-Commerce.com

Background

One of the things I’ve learned from years of working with companies that sell products and services to other companies (B2B)  is that they benefit just as much from engaging in social media as any consumer brand. However, many B2B marketers tend to think too narrowly when it comes to developing a social media strategy and action plan. Many subscribe to the conventional wisdom of creating an obligatory LinkedIn presence and probably a corporate blog. If they are a little more forward thinking they may even be on Twitter or Slideshare. But many don’t feel like they have any business on Facebook, Youtube, Flickr or iTunes which is a shame because social networks, online video, pictures and podcasts drive a lot of engagement along with a lot of search engine activity.

Equally important is a recent stat from eMarketer that points out that 86% of all technology buyers at B2B companies use social media over the course of their day at work. It should be obvious that this doesn’t mean these B2B folks are just using social media FOR work but like many of us, they are allowing their personal and professional lives to intermingle as they tweet in between meetings, watch Youtube videos on their phones and update Facebook during lunch. To that end, with this increased time spent on the social web comes an increase in opportunity for discovering new content, companies and connections.

Content (not Sex) Sells

With this new phenomena comes an opportunity for companies to gently insert themselves into relevant conversations — mainly through good content. To give an example, if I’m a marketer and I’m looking for a new e-mail service provider (ESP) and I see that one of my professional friends has just “liked” a Constant Contact video on “10 Things You Should Know When Evaluating an ESP,” I’m heading over to check it out. If the video provides useful information how which ESP criteria I should be using, there is a good chance that Constant Contact is going into my consideration set. The graphic below from MarketingSherpa (via eMarketer) reinforces this point… good content creates good interactions and ultimately leads to leads and sales.

For better or for worse, the content that most B2B marketers create today looks like white papers, webinars and product demos. Fortunately, these foundational pieces of content can all be cross-purposed into other pieces of content like infographics, podcasts, slides, tweet chats and web videos. Because humans digest content differently, putting similar pieces of content into different formats across different channels ensures that more people will see your content. Take it one step further and link these cross-channel pieces of content together and you will exponentially increase your search engine optimization (SEO) juice.

How Can Companies Unearth More Good Conent

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post on creating, capturing, curating and cross-purposing content. If you missed it, I pointed out some easy ways that companies (B2B or B2C) can use to maximize their content creation. For example:

  • Creating content with short videos – Arm someone in your marketing/PR department with a flip camera. Have them schedule weekly video or audio interviews with your product or customer service team. Create and post them on a company Youtube channel.
  • Capturing content at conferences – If you or one of your employees is speaking at the event, consider posting their Powerpoint slides to SlideShare.com. You can also pick a favorite Slideshare deck and feature it on your website, LinkedIn or Facebook accounts.
  • Cross-purposing content – Take the FAQs from your website and post 1-2/day on your Twitter account. Hashtag the content with #usefultips so that people can search and find all of your tips and even add their own.
  • Curating client or partner content – Ask your customers, partners and industry influencers/analysts to guest blog for you. Better yet, create a series and line up one a week for the entire quarter.

Do you work at a B2B company? If so, what are some of your best tips for engaging prospects and customers in social media?

By: Aaron Strout

Aaron is the President of WCG, one of the three agencies under the W2O Group umbrella. He is a regular contributor to Marketing Land and a co-host of video podcast, Live from Stubbs.

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Pre-Commerce Check out W2O Group President Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. On Content Creation and the New Media Company | Common Sense linked to this post on January 10, 2012

    […] Strout: Why Social Media Works for B2B Companies 86% of corporate procurement people are using social media at work … which is just one reason […]

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