How Can Social Media Marketing Work For B2B Companies?

Yes, this post will talk about social media on a bigger level than we often do. We’ve mentioned examples and strategies to make social media marketing work for sandwiches, indie films, and we talked about some huge social media fails. All in all, these companies dealt with customers directly.

Everybody that has “social media expert” on their twitter profile knows how social media is perfect for engaging your customers. Dan Zarella, in his book Zarella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness calls these folks “unicorn-and-rainbows marketers” . They love “making friends” and “participating in the conversation”, which is basically what I’ve been trying my grandmother to do on Facebook. Not necessarily how I’d generate business to enterprise-level companies.

Why Should B2B Companies Even Bother With Social Media?

If your company sells software to integrate packing and shipping processes, you shouldnt expect 1 million fans on your Fan page.  But it doesnt mean you have no audience.

A recent CMO Survey for the American Marketing Association amongst 250 VP-level marketers from Fortune 1000 and Forbes top 200 B2B companies showed that Social media spending will increase 3% in the next 12 months and 9% over the next five years.

The first opportunity that social media offers the enterprise is the chance to solidify their reputation as experts.

Corporate Blogging Comes Into Play

When you think of Oracle, you may think of Forbes’ richest people list, with its CEO competing with Bill Gates for the #1 spot. They’re definitely not in the same level as Zappos or JetBlue when it comes to Social Media, but their Oracle Mix blog was created to bring customers, employees, and developers together.

Oracle’s blog offers, in a very social way:

  • Peer-to-peer Customer Support
  • The chance for employees to showcase their knowledge
  • Staff integration – see that Melbourne meetup post? There are more similar posts

Having access to this tool can change the mind of an IT director looking at Oracle vs open-source software.

Research, Development, and Feedback Using Twitter

Sticking to the Oracle example, if we run a simple Twitter search for Siebel (one of their products), we see what customers need, what developers think, and Oracle can use that data to launch smaller campaigns.

For example – there were at least 4 or 5 “help wanted” posts from Middle East companies looking for Siebel experts. It’s not good for Oracle when companies want to use their software but cant find a developer that knows how to. So they may very well set up a Middle East seminar with one of their in-house experts. These companies all have an IT department that can learn, and local developers can attend it as well, get certified, and then apply for those job openings.

B2B Social Media Marketing Reaches Their Customers’ Customers

By helping their customer’s customer, B2B companies are able to directly impact their sales. An apparel wholesaler that sells to Wal-Mart, for example, might not need to engage Wal-Mart customers. But by monitoring a simple twitter search, they’re able to know if the end customer is dissatisfied with their products.

That customer will yell at Wal-Mart, who will then suspend orders from the wholesaler. By addressing the issue directly with the end-customer or by providing Wal-Mart with the tools to make that customer happy, the wholesaler guarantees their precious spot on the shelves.

How Can It Help Your Company?

Do you work for a company that is still floundering in social media? Simple solutions go a long way. Take 5minutes and run a relevant twitter search. Show the results to your boss along with suggestions.

It may not be worthy addressing a single customer’s issue if it’ll take 5 employees off their current assignments in order to do so. But if you find a pattern, or a chance to reach out to multiple users, that single action can then generate traffic to a retailer store, or improve the performance of a group of employees that use your software.

Let us know how you can better help your company in the comments below.

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