5 Social Media Tips for B2B companies

Why? Because there’s a sizeable number of B2B entities out there who just can’t wait to get started on Twitter. Start-ups are eager to be ‘first movers’ on (Social Media) SM in their respective domains, which is endearing to say the least. So basically, there’s plenty of enthusiasm among B2B companies and SM budgets are flowing in. That’s that.

But the virtual world is not kind to newbies, let alone B2B players who struggle to strike the right chord with the right audience that is (somewhere) right out there. Companies have rushed on to Twitter and LinkedIn, ending up staring at a conversational abyss. Admins, who have to stick to their schedule of tweets and posts like clockwork, know how that feels.

The right time for B2B players to get a social avatar is NOW but there is a cost involved, or
a simple readjustment of budgets rather. So if you’re a B2B start-up or operate in a very specialized domain, or if your B2B client is considering taking the plunge into web2.0, here are some points that will help you get that extra bang for the buck.

1. Measurement is not a “one size fits all”

The first question is always simple – will SM really help? The answer lies in not just taking quantitative stock of fans and followers, which is a key indicator no doubt, but in ensuring the metrics is pre-agreed  with the client in line with their business and marketing goals. So be it reaching out to a global analyst community, engaging the customer fraternity (CIOs, CFOs, Partners, etc.), building thought leadership or simply demystifying technical concepts, it’s advisable to get the performance metrics locked in at the start of the campaign.

B2C brands have a far easier time attracting eyeballs (trivia: according to aWebchutney report, retail banks were among the first adopters of social media in India). But our B2B friends are not greeted so warmly. Now unless the brand’s virtual success has been significant enough to be measured in numbers or level of interactivity or degree of engagement, should it have logged on in the first place? There’s got to be a better reason than gaining the ‘first-mover advantage.’ (Also read “Is #SocialMedia for my company? Few Myths Debunked in Plain English”).

2. Start-ups are hungry for business leads

In this economy, all companies demand a certain RoI from any form of communication. B2C businesses are a step ahead of B2B here too, often tying the ad agency’s fees to impact on sales. It’s not surprising that B2B start-ups often also have a business development agenda and expect social media to generate leads. Of course they don’t ask that of the social media agency but probably that’s how they’re judging the entire show.

It’s a good idea to be knowledgeable about tools like data mining, crawlers or WebTrends and serve them as part of a generously spread digital strategy. Fewer brands will need to maintain a 360 degree digital presence, but almost every B2B client can use a little social CRM.

If you’re looking for web services vendors who can deliver one or more such services for your client, you’ll find plenty on Justdial.com

3. Put your money where your mouth is

…And followers shall arrive from all corners of the internet! But website banner ads are not exactly social media, are they? So why do Fortune 500s advertise online if they’ve got all the recognition, influence and followers they need?

Well, because it’s a gunfight and one simply can’t forget the gun home! If they don’t advertise, the competition will paint the web in its colours. And guess what, that will also improve its search engine rank – ask any SEO guy. Social media is always free for you, but influence isn’t.

Money makes you presentable and can even buy you some influence in the virtual world. So if you’re a B2B player, any cash spent on a co-dependent or site-targeted advertising campaign, sponsoring webinars, creating videos or building microsites is sure to bring back good dividends!

4. YouTube & Infographics

There’s more info on the internet than can be handled (trivia: according to an IDC’s paper ‘Extracting Value from Chaos,’ 75% of the world’s digital footprint is made of redundant copies of the remaining 25%). In any case, how do CIOs stay updated about developments across the tech sphere? What influences the purchase decisions of IT managers?

More often than not, IT people are spotted adorning their headsets and checking out videos on YouTube. Now what might be for us a lacklustre video demo of the latest DR tool, trust me, IT people actually see ‘The Matrix’ in it!

Likewise, infographics can beautifully capture as complex a matrix of information as any (plus, there are countless ways to customize the info and its flow as would appeal to the TA).

To top it all, audiences are more likely to share an infographic or like a video.

5. Mad-hatters to the rescue

As far as in-house evangelists representing their companies in cyberspace are concerned, nothing beats SM-savvy business leaders. It’s more vital to have them on board, than execute a dry and faceless product or technology campaign.

But like B2B brands can’t rush in to social media, social media can’t be forced on to their reps. Like celebrated CEOs, online ambassadors of B2B brands too need to be mad-hatters of sorts. A little eccentricity and swinging to one’s own groove is a typical trait of business leaders, often adopted on social networks.

But as the first step, virtual ambassadors must traverse beyond the borders of the company blog and contribute to other blogs or news portals, and definitely be active on Twitter. After all, what good is it to have an assembly line of senior execs posting on the company blog in turns?

Finally, as they say, the heart is where the home is! Agencies often struggle to convince them, but B2B brands have a special need to sync their website with information about their social media presence. Here’s the logic – there’s an already established audience for B2C brands on Facebook and Twitter, users look up their fan page or handle. But if you’re a B2B company, the people who visited your website are the ones you want as your fans on Twitter!

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