There are many misconceptions about the value of social media marketing for B2B companies. Convincing management that investing in social media is a good business decision is sometimes difficult. Are your bosses still on the fence about the importance of social media for your company?
Say, you’ve just been asked to convince your B2B company’s management on the value of social media. Here’s what your presentation should include:
1. Caution: Begin by explaining that establishing a successful, competent social media strategy is hard work. Don’t oversell. The channel can be hugely rewarding, but will require time, organization, planning, and the right leadership. Rome wasn’t built in a day. An active presence on social media platforms shouldn’t be taken lightly and won’t happen quickly. Social media are completely reshaping management and business. Doesn’t management want to be a part of that?
2. Objectives/Timeframe: Social media isn’t just about the technology or platforms; it’s about how you use it. Your company’s management needs to identify its objectives before even thinking of getting started. Are you interested in more sales, more leads, attracting new staff, brand positioning, or all of the above? Will you start small, and grow over the years? Are you ready to grow quickly by focusing on return on investment (ROI) from the very beginning? Will the PR department be in charge of all social media platforms? Will you hire social media experts who are entirely dedicated to the growth of your B2B company’s social media marketing?
3. Who’s online?: Your company’s management needs to know that your market – no matter how small – is likely active on social media, and those customers are probably open to interaction. Even if they’re on social media networks for personal reasons, they’re still online! And so are your competitors. There is no better way to pique management’s interest than by showing them which of your competitors are already on social media, and how it’s benefiting them.
Monitor what your competitors are doing, collect evidence, and present your findings to management. How are they using LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, and YouTube? How many followers do they have? Are they getting likes? Are people commenting? Identify and paint a picture of the social activity that your company is missing out on.
4. Customer service: You’ve been making a good case, and your company’s management is listening intently. It’s time to speak in less abstract terms. Businesses invest in social media for a reason: it’s the easiest way to listen to what customers are saying. Interact with them! If they’re commenting or tweeting – praise, concerns, questions or criticism – respond to them all. The customer will have direct access to you, and you to them.
5. Employee loyalty and community: Social media allow you to build a community. B2B companies are also using social media platforms to promote employee loyalty and affiliation. It allows them to become ambassadors for the company; it gives them a voice. In terms of dollars and cents, it can also mean better productivity, less turnover, and reduced training costs.
6. Sales: In 2009, Paul Dunay made a $250,000 sale by responding to a tweet. The potential customer was expressing his need for a new phone system, and Dunay, social media expert for a business communications company, jumped on the opportunity. The example may be extreme, but it goes to show the importance of monitoring keywords online, and engaging with customers. A good social media strategy will generate more sales and more leads.
7. Brand/Reputation: Everything you do online as a company is part of your branding. Think of it as extended advertisement. Every comment you leave on a blog, for instance, reflects the values of your business. If management hasn’t been convinced yet, the thought of inexpensive, cost-effective branding across multiple platforms could just be the final selling point.
You’ve ended your presentation, and your bosses look pleased. You’ve probably helped usher your company into the new age of marketing, where major business decisions are influenced by online activity – the activity of your customers, employees and competitors.