Over 4.5 billion people use social media now, equating to more than half of the world. As consumers continuously increase their social media usage, it is becoming more important for brands to develop a social media presence.
Despite popular belief, social media marketing isn't just for business-to-consumer companies. Did you know that 75% of Business-to-business buyers use social media when making a purchase? Social media marketing is a valuable relationship-building opportunity for B2B brands that has often been disregarded. This may be due to the complexity of the matter as B2B companies often face lengthier sales cycles and traditionally have more decision-makers involved.
However, social media marketing can have tremendous benefits for B2B companies. Here are a few examples:
B2B Social Media increases brand awareness
In order for customers to buy from your brand, they have to know you exist and what you offer.
Gartner's research finds that when B2B buyers are considering a purchase, they spend 27% of that time researching independently online. With a significant amount of research on a brand, having more marketing channels, other than a website, to interact with prospects is crucial. The shipping company Maersk provides a great example of the power of brand awareness. They were able to achieve a 600 percent increase in applications from previous recruitments from their growth in social media.
B2B Social Media raises thought leadership
Instead of strictly selling products or services, brands can establish themselves as thought leaders in the field they specialize in by sharing educational material. This can serve as a way to differentiate brands from the competition and demonstrate their expertise in what they do. To establish thought leadership, brands can share best practices, articles, industry market reports, and other thought leadership content.
B2B Social Media educates potential customers
Social media can be a great way for customers to learn more about what a company offers. For potential customers that are looking for detailed explanations and demonstrations of the brand's products or services, blogs and videos can be a great way to provide digital education materials. For example, a YouTube video describing a company's product can help better educate a customer and bring them on board. Employees' social accounts can also be a great avenue for education. According to HubSpot, content shared by employee advocates receives over eight times more engagement than content shared by brands.
B2B Social Media maintains customers’ trust
Social media can help develop trust among customers by providing useful information and a forum of communication. Every piece of content developed establishes more trust for the brand. However, if the content is not consistent, this could confuse customers. Consistently publishing content will help create a better customer experience and help build credibility, reputation, and brand trust. Brands can also enable discussions from their customers, get feedback, and act on it. Upon a whaling incident, Maersk minimized a negative PR event through social media. Instead of hiding the fact that they accidentally struck a whale, they created a tribute page in memory of the whale. This honesty and response from Maersk netted the company worldwide interest and established trust back in the organization
Social media marketing is becoming a more powerful tool for digital marketers. While your social accounts may not convert as frequently as your content or email marketing, they still play an important role. Without an active social media presence, brands risk losing potential customers to the competition.
Remember, it can take months before any results are realized from your social media marketing efforts. This is why it is important to develop a solid digital marketing strategy to see short-term gains and long-term growth.