Social media and B2B, a good mix?
Social media has often been heard at the B2C business level as a way to create brand awareness and build consumer loyalty to the brand. But what about businesses working in B2B ? Is social media a good investment in a B2B context? How to use social media in a B2B context? And above all, what is the ROI of using social media for a company working in B2B? This is what we are going to cover in this post with the help of a study by the firm Forrester in support of Making Social Media Work In B2B Marketing  .
PORTRAIT OF THE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN B2B
Few B2B companies currently use social media . Indeed, this is the case for only 31% of the companies that were surveyed as part of the Forrester survey . Of the rest, 60% say they use more traditional lead generation tactics such as email marketing, webinars, microsites and online advertising in their marketing mix. In addition, still according to the same study, less than 10% of B2B companies surveyed say they integrate widgets , mashups , advergames , advertising on mobile or in virtual worlds in their marketing plan.
The biggest weakness of B2B companies when it comes to social media is recognizing its benefits. Indeed, although 25% of B2B companies say that social media integration helps create brand awareness, very few of them are able to make the link between social media awareness and sales. generated .
THE MOST USED SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS IN B2B
The most used social media tools in B2B according to the study conducted by Forrester are blogs (31%), podcasts (29%), online communities and forums (28%) and social networks (25 %). Also, a good proportion of B2B companies are beginning to explore the possibilities of social media. Indeed, according to these companies, social networks and video marketing are at too early a stage of evolution to determine their success rate in relation to their business.
WHAT TO DO? (OR THE SUCCESS FACTORS OF A SOCIAL MEDIA INTEGRATION IN B2B)
Several companies have tried to deploy a social strategy which has resulted in failure, for various reasons. Indeed, it is necessary to make sure to understand certain key factors of its customers, its company and social media before starting any integration.
1. KNOW YOUR ONLINE AUDIENCE AND SOCIAL MEDIA BEHAVIORS
First, you have to know your online audience and know how, when she uses social media. And for what reason (networking, obtaining resources, knowledge or recruitment). Unfortunately, this data is not often accessible to companies. Indeed, the behavior of a B2B clientele offline is not necessarily the same online at the community level. However, it should be kept in mind that these online communities have a high potential for seeking new customers, particularly in the telecommunications, security and IT services sectors where respectively 36%, 34% and 22% say that advice from peers and colleagues best helps them in their buying decision-making process. This is what my colleague Laurent discusses in his post The importance of user-generated content .
2. ASSIGN A PLACE AND A ROLE FOR SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE MARKETING PLAN
Few companies working in B2B give enough space to social media in their marketing plan. Indeed, marketing activities such as webinars and microsites are much more popular at the B2B level and they also generate important leads. Social media therefore come in handy to market the webinars or to make the community react following the broadcast of webinar or other capsules. So definitely give more space to social media initiatives if you expect to get results.
3. KNOW HOW TO APPROPRIATELY USE SOCIAL APPROACHES TO ENGAGE EXISTING CUSTOMERS WITH THE BRAND AND RETAIN CURRENT CUSTOMERS WITH THE BRAND OR PRODUCT
This is to be expected, given that few B2B companies know about social media, very few know how to use it effectively to generate conversations with their current customer base and build brand loyalty. The potential of communities allowing customers to exchange their opinions on products (technical specificities, efficiency and relevance of the product, etc.), to advise each other and to obtain support is sometimes overlooked by companies, although these These allow the company to free up some of their resources in terms of customer support while building customer loyalty. Thus, again according to the Forrester study , no less than 79% of marketers who were surveyed say they do not turn to web 2.0 initiatives to communicate with their consumers.
In short, to say that social media is only useful as part of a B2C strategy is wrong. What's more, it is still necessary to consider the relevance on a case-by-case basis for each company before building a strategy with social media.
Finally, it's always worth asking why go on social media for my business? What is/are the business objectives related to this social media integration? Do my current or potential customers constitute a large enough critical mass to create an online community? What tangible benefits can your business derive from it? (cost reduction in customer service and support, customer loyalty, etc.). Are the internal resources present and sufficient to properly manage the additional volume of work? It may be relevant to do a cost-benefit analysis to ensure the relevance for your B2B company to take the social turn. In times of economic recession,
In summary, one must ask why? and not simply wondering which social media to go to without knowing if you can generate relevant business benefits. With that, I wish you a very social (and linked to your business objectives) 2010! 😉