Most companies selling their products and services to the general public have realised that social media is a great way to expand their reach, promote their offerings and increase sales. When it comes to businesses that sell to other businesses, the uptake of social networking has been a little slower.
On the surface, it can seem like there are few benefits for B2B businesses using social media. B2C companies can simply share an image of their product and a link to buy it, leading to more sales – a process that isn’t possible for many B2B companies. Businesses that sell to other organisations including other companies and national and local governments often have much higher ticket items and longer sales cycles. This means it’s unlikely that a head of procurement is going to see a post about a B2B product on Twitter and immediately decide to buy it.
However, B2B businesses should not discount social media. It’s still a great tool for increasing brand awareness, sharing valuable content such as blog posts and case studies and building the relationships that are so essential for successful B2B sales.
When using social media marketing for your B2B business, the focus shouldn’t be on amassing huge amounts of followers. Instead, you want an engaged group of followers who are interested in your postings and willing to share. By posting relevant, informative content that explains how your company can solve their problems, you can eventually turn your social media followers into customers, or at least people who refer customers to you.
Rather than expecting direct sales from social media, use it primarily as a means of generating leads. Share content relevant to your industry that is created by others alongside content created by you to establish yourself as an expert in your field. When sharing links to your own downloadable content, ensure that people can’t download it right away – if you ask people to fill in a form with their details beforehand, you generate leads easily.
When sharing information about the products and services you provide, don’t just share links to pages on your website. Instead, focus on telling a story and explaining what problems your solutions are designed to solve. Case studies explaining what you’ve done for previous customers are great for this purpose.
Social media can also be a great means of generating traffic to your website. If you share relevant and interesting content on a regular basis, more people will click through to your profile and click on the links you share. This is also great for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) – the more your links are shared, the more authoritative you appear to search engines, ensuring you appear higher up in the rankings and maximising opportunities for people to find your company.
If you’re interested in learning more about using social media as a B2B business, the marketing experts at Hubspot have written about ways to use the biggest social networks for this purpose.