Sep

Social Strategy for B2B Companies

                                                 

I am regularly approached by businesses that sell to other businesses to help them market and promote their brand on social networks.

And so I noticed that some of them have a vague idea of how social media works and the sustainability it offers. They often see social marketing as yet another way to advertise and sell their products, in the same manner they are accustomed to do on traditional marketing mediums. Not surprisingly it usually results in frustration.

While I saw companies successfully sell on social, they are typically limited to mass consumer oriented B2C verticals, such as fashion and apparel, travel and hospitality. There is a segment of online shoppers, sometimes called ‘impulse shoppers’, that makes purchases straight off the Twitter timeline, yet the majority of us go to social networks for different reasons. Certainly no one is buying an insurance policy, or a house, or a CRM solution there.

The success of social media and its importance for business is in its unique ability to build trust.

For B2B, as well as for the majority of consumer-oriented businesses, this is where the real value of social marketing lies. A more detailed discussion here

And so that means approaching social media strategically.  First know precisely why you want to engage, understand clearly how it will help you grow the business. Then, if you are convinced of social media’s importance for the success of your business, start taking practical steps.  Obviously very company is different, but here are some observations that are pretty generic:

- Plan long-term. Don’t expect results after one month. Not even after two months.

- Do not do social media just because ‘everybody’ is doing it.  When people have strategy their choice is between social tools X or Y or Z. It typically comes early in the conversation. And when people say ‘I’ll try it for a month and see if it brings results’ or ‘I want to see how my friend/my competitor is making out before deciding’ it usually indicates a lack of strategy, because it implies a choice between tool X and doing nothing. In that case, better do nothing.  

- Social media does not substitute sales. It is however one of the most efficient ways to grow sales Here is a good explaination

Social media’s importance for B2B business is increasing. More and more owners and executives are inquiring how they can succeed in the new environment. As usual, the earlier you start the better are the chances.

Interested in reading more? Check out our other blogs:

Social selling. Difference between Facebook and Twitter

                                                         

There are obviously some key differences between Facebook and Twitter that make them appealing to different people as well as businesses. If possible, businesses should try to leverage both networks in their marketing and sales efforts.

But marketing approaches for each network differ.  Consequently social selling approaches differ as well. Here are some major differences of the two networks that impact sales strategy:

- Twitter lets all the accounts commingle, Facebook makes a definite distinction between business and personal. This can be an issue because a business page cannot proactively connect with individuals with personal profiles. Individuals have to first like a business page and still the business can’t reach out to them directly unless they message first. This is not the case with Twitter, as anyone can follow pretty much anyone.

- Facebook preferred way to market products and promote online sales can be compared to a showroom. The prospects can see the product and purchase it through some other channel, however engagement (with prospects) is limited to friends and followers. Hence growing the number of friends and followers becomes a critical task on Facebook.  Twitter does not offer promotional capabilities but engagement activity is not limited to followers. The engagement on Twitter is therefore more straightforward and can lead to direct sales.

- Facebook user data is typically open to friends or followers. Twitter data is typically open to the entire world.

- Twitter is fast (minutes). Facebook is slower (hours and days).

- Twitter is more about building a brand identity. Facebook is more about business relationships.

To summarize, a direct timely engagement could be a good strategy on Twitter. In a typical scenario a user tweets that she needs a taxi or asks where to dine tonight. A taxi company or a relevant restaurant engages in a conversation and secures a customer. It is an efficient approach with immediate ROI.

On Facebook a good strategy is to grow and educate a community of followers. Facebook is excellent for promotional campaigns. This is a longer-term strategy with effects not visible until after several months.

 

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Is Anonymity the Future of the Internet?

Right now we're in a world that sees  transparency as the new form of integrity. Right now we're in a world that understands that reputation is everything. Loyalty is somewhat fleeting as consumers, armoured with this incessant flow of knowledge from the web, have the ability to make swift  judgements and decisions about individuals, companies and governments, often times to the detriment of the target.

The emergence of social media has forced companies to stop hiding from behind that veil of corporate spin and address the very things that the web has thrown at them. Nothing is secret any longer. Even secrets that were once held secure behind invulnerable fortresses now have a strong probability of materializing today.

Is transparency as a norm working? Or, are the results of transparency surfacing a new order that will create yet another tier of acceptance from the masses?

"Anonymity is Authenticity"

Following the death of Rahteah Parsons, who, after being assaulted by 4 boys, was tormented relentlessly by classmates and other kids on social networks; and also following the suicide of Hannah Smith, who experienced the same torment, it's clear the internet has evolved to an era that has given free reign to voice an opinion and use like-minded affiliations to express and further spread that opinion. In these cases, anonymous profiles proliferated the incessant stream of hateful attacks that eventually wore down both girls' defences.

And while I originally argue that anonymity was a cowardice state that allowed people to be and feel comfortable being the anti-self that runs away from accountability, my stance has seen another side of this coin.

Anonymity is Safe

It becomes clear that humans, while inherently social, are discriminating of the things we disclose and to those to whom we share. 

If transparency breeds contempt, then anonymity should build acceptance

The freedom to express opinion and judgement without feeling guarded, or without fearing others linking you to a statement is indeed liberating. And while this free reign may take the form of a soapbox soliloquy or criticisms (and perhaps bullying attacks) against opposing views, there is a large segment of users who want the ability to share a secret, or have a place to vent their frustrations or challenges -- without the fear of reprisal.

Despite revelations from Snowden and the NSA that nothing on the net is private, this does not stop the wave of user adoption for applications like SnapChat, Whisper or Secret.

Here are some recent stats for Snapchat from Mashable

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I've recently downloaded Whisper and my experience has been more than liberating. It has allowed me an outlet to record my hopes, desires and more importantly, my anger and not-for-public emotions. Being judged in real life or on social takes its toll. If my reputation precedes me, then I will be discriminating about what I say in places where my content and identity are linked.

Popular opinion just doesn't matter. It's irrelevant. But I want to track progress in my life: my emotions, my dark moments, my personal observations, my milestones -- all in my own digital diary.

Why shouldn't users have the option to keep part of their identities secret and separate?

It's up to the next generation

This new medium has created is an endless volatile loop of positive and negative reinforcement. While transparency has extreme benefits, there are just as many negative consequences that have come as a result of creating this honesty within social channels. Society continues to send the wrong message to Millennials and GenZers, warning them to be more discerning and to suppress who they really are as individuals... warning them of the potential consequences should they venture down the wrong path.

How we communicate today poses tremendous issues for this younger generation. Their experiences are grounded in the fear of being vulnerable... fear of being misjudged... fear of not being accepted... fear of being punished. When the next generation grows up, it'll be up to them to shape the landscape and determine how to balance the impacts of transparency and anonymity.

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