Connecting with customers through social media in a B2B organisation
There were many lessons that could be taken from the Donald Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the big headline was the poor attendance, but let’s ignore any political inferences.
There was one salutary lesson for marketers who are trying to connect with their audience; if you are not talking to your audience where they are talking, and listening to what they are doing, you will face some unpleasant surprises.
The campaign run over the social media platform TikTok to sign up for tickets and then not show up didn’t affect the actual attendance, but it did significantly effect how the Trump campaign marketed the event, built expectations for the event, and what data they could usefully use after the event.
It showed how an organisation can be blindsided because they increasingly narrowed their focus on what they’ve done before, rather than what’s happening now. The same principles behind this mass marketing also applies to the B2B space – you need to ensure you are listening, and talking, to your marketplace in the right places online.
Social media evolves
Social media has been around for some time now, LinkedIn was launched in 2003, Facebook 2004, You Tube 2005, Twitter 2006. But the biggest revolution of the 21st century started in 2009 with Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Spotify, etc becoming part of many users’ everyday life.
Despite their popularity, it has taken some time for brands to adopt these tools as key strategic marketing platforms. This is not surprising, considering they have not been designed for marketing use. The B2C market has increasingly taken on the challenge and recognized the advantages facilitated by social media.
However, the B2B market perceives social media as unnecessary and boring. It will take some time for business to realise that social media can be a strategic tool with the potential to increase brand awareness, humanise B2B companies, establish companies as thought leaders, and connect with customers, prospects, industry influencers, and potentially increase sales!
Tell personal stories
If you are in the B2B space and have wondered if social media is something your business should consider, take a note of the following 3 steps to start a successful social media strategy.
1) Your social media strategy needs to extend beyond the marketing department and involve a range of employees in other parts of the business. Success is highly dependent on management support. Invest on training and if possible hire someone with experience and a good social media presence. He/she needs to be a social media role model in the organisation.
2) Start by listening. This will generate valuable market research and customer knowledge. You can do this manually ( small data) or you can buy social media monitoring software to help you listen to large data. Listen to what people are saying about your brand and your competitors. Look out for who the brand opinion leaders are.
3) Compelling content is one of the key contributors to success and this must come from your brand story. Every brand has a story to tell and people love stories. Select key characters for the story, this can be your customers, employees, stakeholders or fictitious characters. Bring your brand to live and use the platforms to showcase it.
Finally, this is not much different in the B2C market apart from the fact that it is more challenging to operate in larger markets. In contrast, B2B are generally fewer, but larger customers and long-term business relationships are central to organisational success. Become a social brand and build relationships using your brand story to connect with your customers.
A lot of organisation’s still treat social media like a platform for press releases. They use it to tell what’s happening in an organisation, rather than contributing to other people’s lives. If you can create an ecosystem where the people in your organisation are contributing ideas and content to communities throughout the globe and delivering value to them, that value will come back to your business.
In the B2B space, this connecting of people and their stories is the real goal. When you connect people, create a meaningful connection, and build a bond of trust between them, then doing business becomes much easier.
Where is your audience talking? What are the stories they are telling, and the stories you have to tell? Where and how can you build trust between your organisation’s people and other people in the marketplace?
These are the fundamental questions to answer in order to really leverage the capabilities of social media. If you don’t ask them first, no-one will show up.