By adaptive - January 22nd, 2014
B2C corporations have been developing their social media techniques for several years. 2014 is the year B2B also leverages social media platforms.
For corporations in the B2B space, social media has presented somewhat of a steep learning curve. Without generally any customer facing experience to the extent that B2C enterprises have enjoyed, developing a marketing and customer services strategy for social media has required a new skill set. But it seems that this year B2B organisation are ready and waiting to leverage these networks to their advantage.
According to the latest digital marketing trend report from AdAge, 80% of B2B marketers report that their digital marketing budgets will increase, with a greater emphasis on social media connectivity and integration across their organisations.
Says PwC: “B2B customers are talking about organisations whether they are participating or not (in social media), which leaves a choice of participating in these conversations or allowing others to control the brand. Furthermore, much can be understood about the market, trends in customer taste, and what competitors are up to.”
The approach that B2B organisations are now taking with social media is to develop their use of content marketing, as this has been shown to offer highly effective conversions, and the support of their commercial networks right across the supply chain. The AdAge survey shows a 17% increase in the use of content marketing over social channels with print reducing by 10% and over 70% of those surveyed will use content marketing as part of their market strategy this year.
Organisations in the B2B space are also increasingly moving how they support their social media activity to a specific person within their organisations. A recent survey from the Content Marketing Institute highlighted this trend when it revealed that over 70% of B2B organisations in North America now have someone that oversees their marketing strategy. They have an increasing remit to place social media interactions at the heart of all marketing campaigns and customer services communications.
The increase in confidence to use social media within marketing campaigns and as a foundation for content marketing is a clear indicator of a level of maturity within the B2B sector that was not previously apparent. Kfir Pravda, CEO of Pravda Media Group said: “Marketers that embrace technologies such as marketing automation, content recommendation, business intelligence and smart lead tracking are outperforming their competition.”
For B2B corporations developing their identity across the available social media networks has proven difficult but is now coming into focus. Where there was little understanding of how what appeared to be just B2C social networks, B2B organisations can now see how all of the leading social media platforms can offer a plethora of opportunities to deliver active sales leads, but more importantly, evolve the commercial relationships that already exist.
Organisations in the B2B sector have also realised that they must develop social media policies to govern their activity across these networks. Monitoring is important, but so is in-house brand advocacy and how this can be communicated. B2B organisations don’t yet have the confidence to allow high levels of employee-lead advocacy, but as social media tracking becomes more commonplace, this will develop, as it has across B2C enterprises.
PwC concluded: “Companies like American Express, Dell and Thomson Reuters have all demonstrated that social media can become central planks of B2B customer engagement strategies, driving real benefits for both customers and the organisation. These organisations have learned from the B2C models and successfully extended the application of social media into the B2B domain.
“As embracing social media represents a significant change to the way in which many organisations interact with their customers, a social media strategy is essential. Becoming a social business requires insight on many fronts: about your customers, about what your brand stands for; and about the additional value that you can provide your customers through social media engagement.”
June 2014, New York
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