While some studies have shown that B2B companies are catching up and, in some cases, actually overtaking their B2C brethren in terms of participation in social media, it still may feel like a vast land of unknowns when it comes to applying it to your own brand. If you happen to be one of those folks who doesn’t know where to begin and feels totally overwhelmed by the prospect of engaging your audience on social media, then consider these four items that may help you take the first step in the right direction.
1. They have come; now you must build it.
There was a time not so long ago when you could argue that your audience was not using social media for business purposes. Those days have come to a close and now it’s extremely rare to find any industry without significant numbers of customers engaging through social media. In fact, even if you aren’t using social media, people are probably already out there talking about your company, and, if not your company, definitely a product or service that your company offers. To forego a presence in social media now is equivalent to choosing not to have a website in 1998. In other words, those who have not already embraced social media, or at least explored it, are already behind the eight ball.
2. It’s all about relationships.
Social media is perfect for companies with long sales cycles. With a smart engagement strategy, social media allows you to stay in front of your customer and, more importantly, be there when they have a question. Companies need to focus on building meaningful relationships through social media instead of simply treating it like another marketing platform. The smaller your audience, the more meaningful the social media engagement should be. Done correctly, social media is about building trust and relationships, not making sales. Of course, trusted and strong relationships often lead to sales. After you have built up a list of devoted followers, the next step is measuring the true value of your efforts. But be careful if you try to measure ROI right out of the gate because the process takes time, which leads us conveniently to number three.
3. Slow and steady wins the race.
Social media is not something that you can check off the to-do list. It’s a sustained effort over a long period of time. While it is extremely difficult to build trust in a brand overnight, social media offers the opportunity to capitalize on the long game by spending quality time with your customers anytime, anywhere. So even though social media will probably not provide any instant success stories, the relationships created can be real and lasting which, in B2B, can mean a lot of dollar signs.
4. You have to walk the walk.
At its best, social media is a behind-the-scenes look into the personality of a company. Therefore social media often works best when it is built into the DNA at a company-wide level as opposed to being a function of a single department or person. Many companies rely exclusively on the marketing department, sales or even the customer service department but to be fully engaged with your customers, social media should really be baked into everything that your company does. This will give your followers a true feeling of what your company is like throughout all of its varied departments. This makes it easier for a prospective customer to understand the nuances of your company’s perspective before they ever make a single purchase.
While these are merely helpful ruminations as you begin developing a formal social media program for your company, there are many other considerations to be made as the plan begins to take shape. So don’t fret. Take it step by step and before you know it, your company will have a whole new channel developed for speaking to your customers.