Technology & InternetSocial Media for B2B (Reminder: you are not B2C)

In B2C, using social media for new business opportunities is quite common. B2B seems to have a hard time following. The reason lies in the different processes required for B2B and B2C. Once you understand the differences driving B2C and B2B processes, you can start to use social media for new B2B success.

B2b

Forget about social media for a second and look at your offline business development in B2B. We all know that B2B business development decisions influence our revenue, so we take care to evaluate our potential partners: we ask around for recommendations, find ex-customers and business partners, get as much information as possible about our future business interaction. In return, we offer information to find new clients. We go to networking events, get to know bundles of new people and discuss current and past projects, challenges and solutions. 

In short words: we build a reputation and trust; we connect and communicate.

In contrast to B2C, where a (pitchy) slogan, a poster or short advertisement can trigger a buying decision, in B2B - business development is still about building trust and a reputation. Hence, the boom in B2B content marketing.  

Let’s go back to our initial question of how to utilize social media for B2B business development. Try to avoid copying successful B2C marketers or campaigns; they have a completely different buying and decision process to trigger. Instead, look at the processes you know from your successful offline work and transfer this same type of B2B business development into your social media work.

As offline processes work well for us in B2B “real life”, the big question should be: How can we translate B2B offline processes into a social media business development plan? (Hint: Not how can I make B2B work like B2C?): 

1. Find out where your target group is active.

While the trick is to find and locate your active target group within social media, you do not need to limit yourself to just one outlet. Networks that boast a high percentage of B2B professionals will present a different advantage to networks where the target group represents a slimmer percentage, but the audience is more expansive. Ask yourself: do you take part in only one business networking event per year? (Answer: of course not.) Try different networks, find out which ones suits your personality, where you feel comfortable, and where you can interact with people who are interested in your business. Keep in mind this interaction will manifest differently on different sites (as do relationships at different, offline networking events). 

2. Publish content that attracts the attention of your target group. 

This includes two very important aspects: the content itself and where to publish. As in offline life, try different content angles and in different outlets; you can even combine different social networks for publishing and sharing, drawing more attention to your content. Would you stick to just one theme for all of your offline conferences? Indeed, you can use the same content for more than one outlet, but also try different content angles to see which resonates most strongly with your audience. Look for an easy place to launch your content, where your work will get attention by a relevant audience; then learn from their reactions. 

3. Make yourself accessible. 

As in offline life, your content will not always be a product placement or talk about your past experience. When sharing general know-how and tips to your target group, make sure your readers can easily find your personal bio, company homepage and the products and/or services you or your company provides. Link to former publications which demonstrate your expertise. Take them to places where they can utilize your ideas, services or products; these steps will add to your credibility. The more positive things people know about your professional life - and the more useful tools you provide them - the bigger the chance they will connect to you and come to you for help. 

4. Facilitate dialogue. 

This is one is easy. It is critical to remember that social media is about interaction and communication. Would you answer a related question someone asks you after a talk on a conference? (Answer: of course.) Do not remain silent, if someone comments on your content or talks to you in social networks. Talk to people, answer comments on your publications, comment other peoples content: get the conversation started - and keep it going. 

5. Connect to relevant people. 

What you really want is find people that seem interesting to you and your B2B business. Browse other peoples’ content on topics related to your industry and field of expertise. Follow thought leaders and engage them in discussion. In real life you give interesting people your business card and hopefully receive one back. In social media, you make or receive a contact request, a follow, a circle or a friendship. This is what networking is all about: do not just collect names, numbers and emails - choose the people that will share your knowledge and are interested in your field of interest. As always in B2B business development, you never know - exactly - when your networking efforts will generate that relevant and lucrative lead. 

(Note: exploreB2B is the equivalent of one big, online business conference. Here, you are invited to present relevant business topics and browse through other peoples articles - establishing thought leadership and formulating viable B2B connections.)

Author

Susanna_gebauer_exploreb2bDr. Susanna GebauerexploreB2B GmbHGeschäftsführer, Gründer

Discussion

Vinod DuvasiVinod DuvasiSocial Media for B2B

Thanks for sharing such an informative post. Just curious to know how much helpful will a social platform like LinkedIn is for B2B connections.

Reply
Dr. Susanna GebauerDr. Susanna Gebauer

LinkedIn is a great platform to connect. I have the best results with direct contact - although you have to be very select who you contact, as people easily feel spammed.

Reply
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