Social media marketing for B2B is something that has been widely debated over the course of the past several years. Many B2B's are simply skeptical of the thought that social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and even the up-and-coming Pinterest, can be the driving force behind growing their customer base and building brand awareness.
However recent studies done by a Kiss Metrics report from last year suggest that 64% of Twitter users and 51% of Facebook users said they will buy from brands that they follow, and 34% of respondents said that they will likely become a fan if an acquaintance likes the same brand.
Right now there is a gold mine in leveraging online communities. Facebook likes and shares, and twitter followers and retweets have become the new "Word of Mouth." But it's not just about getting that "like" number up there, you have to build an audience that is engaged as well. Mike Hotz of ClikZ wrote an excellent article about how to do it here. Here is a summation of his thoughts:
Give them a reason to want to get engaged. Why should they "like" or follow your page? What advantages will come out of doing so? You first need to create and promote reasons for them to get engaged in the first place.
This step requires a lot of brainstorming and really thinking about your fans' desire to engage with your brand. You will want to stress "quality over quantity" when it comes to your content and content publishing and you will want to make sure that you stay active in the community.
Different businesses should promote different strategies, and the beauty of Timeline is that you don't have to be straight forward and boring with your content publishing - in fact that is probably the worst thing you can do.
Crafting the perfect message and creating brand awareness takes time and your own personal engagement. Creativity is the key to promoting your B2B company via social media avenues. A good example of a Timeline page that is highly engaged and creative would be Fanta's Facebook page. They are constantly working with-in the parameters of Timeline to keep their online community very engaged and do a very good job with getting their audience to like, share, and comment on their content publishing efforts through innovative and creative activities for their fans to do right there on their Facebook.
Analytics. Analyzing your social efforts is the first step to keeping engaged with your audience and learning more about them. If you want to be able to respond to them, you in turn have to learn about what they respond best to .
Reputation management is also a key here. You want to make sure that you are responding to criticisms and complaints just as fast and just as enthusiastic as you do with the compliments that you receive. Find a way to turn complaints and criticisms into social advantages and try to build relationships along the way – with all of your online community members.
Customer service is always recognized as one of the main factors that can make or break your company. Getting involved socially online with your customer base is a good way to “keep the conversation” and learn about your customer base.
Bringing the data together and applying your social strategy to your emailing campaign. Building an audience through your social platforms can be very tough, especially when you are starting from scratch. That’s why analyzing your email campaigns and putting a finger on what kind of content works best for you is very important when implementing content publishing strategies for your social media.
Once you have devised a content strategy for engaging your audience, the first place to start promoting it is through your email campaigns. Facebook timeline even offers a “build your audience” option where you can import email contacts and send them messages promoting your Facebook. Whatever it is you are saying in you emails, you want to make sure that you are giving them a reason to engage socially.