Key marketing objectives b2b marketers are pursuing through social mediaArticle
Only a few years ago, the term social media was restricted to social interactions on a Friendster or MySpace page. Fast forward a few years and you find social media playing a pivotal role in almost all aspects of our daily lives and interactions – from purchasing decisions to election results. With the clever blend of convenient technology and interaction capabilities, social media is now redefining how people communicate, consume and distribute information. Did you know that 50 percent of people learn about the latest happenings and events in the world through social media? Studies have found that the average time spent by people aged 18 to 64 years old on social media is more than three hours daily! What does this mean for the B2B marketer? It means that if you are not where your customers are, you WILL BE LOSING PRECIOUS BUSINESS.
The rise of social media networks has caused a significant shift in the manner in which people interact with brands. When pleased with a brand experience, customers now express their sentiments in the form of a like on a Facebook or LinkedIn page and when displeased, send an angry tweet on Twitter with the ability to do irreparable damage by going viral. As a B2B marketer, this change in customer behavior coupled with the opportunities presented by the channel itself means that you can no longer afford to ignore this medium.
With the advent of new social networks, there is a tendency and also an added pressure for marketers to utilize all the social channels. But B2B marketers must strictly only use those channels which are effective for the objectives they plan to meet. This means that while making a social media marketing plan, you should map your overall objective to social media channels which are effective in meeting those objectives. Here is a list of some of the most important objectives for B2B marketers along with the social media strategies for each one of them:
- Amplified Brand Awareness and Reach
It is estimated that around 60% of the buying process in a complex sale is already complete before clients are even willing to talk to the sales people. This is because of the large volume of information in the form of reviews, industry reports, social networks and interactions, available to users at the click of a button. In such a scenario it is essential for you to be found when users are searching for information pertaining to your industry. One way of doing this is by generating keyword-rich blog posts containing rich information about your company and your offerings. Another channel that must be leveraged by B2B marketers is Google Plus. Posts on Google+ are now included in Google’s search results, which means that companies who use the online network to spark engaging discussions with their community, will now have a better chance of being found as compared to companies that don’t.
For B2B marketers, generating awareness and broadening their brand’s reach is a constant challenge. Social media not only allows you to identify the right markets for you, it also facilitates in convenient penetration of these markets. Using social media analytics tools you can get a detailed account of the geographies, the online communities, and the demographics of people conversing about your brand. You can capture the attention of these people by having engaging and meaningful conversations with them using social networks.
A good example would be Accenture and the manner in which the company exhibits thought-leadership by using a variety of content assets such as blogs on emerging technologies, consulting and careers; videos on YouTube; insight reports on IT and digital media trends; podcasts showcasing interviews with industry experts and more. All their social media marketing objectives demonstrate quite clearly to their customer what they stand for and what they care about the most – innovation and technology. This helps them attract and engage buyers with a similar passion and requirement.
- Increased Lead Generation
B2B companies can use social media channels to generate and nurture leads. Key marketing objectives should focus on social media strategies. It is important to cross-link your social media efforts across channels so that they work seamlessly. For instance, prospects that arrive at your blog and leave a comment there become a lead which can subsequently be nurtured with the help of newsletters and incentives. Ensuring that your corporate blog comes with an option to subscribe to your newsletters would end up generating some amount of leads for you. You can engage with your social media fans on Facebook, or followers on LinkedIn and Twitter and invite them for your webinars or provide them with trials. An example of how a brand used social media networks to increase leads is Jaguar with their somewhat recent campaign which was launched simultaneously on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Vine. The contest gave users a chance to win a test drive of the car, provided they post on their social networks using hashtags and also fill a form with the reason why they think they deserve to win this coveted test drive. The campaign not only provided the brand with thousands of valuable inbound leads but also increased their following on their social media networks.
- Increased Engagement Rates
Social media channels unlike traditional mediums of communication allow for real-time engagement with your target audience. With the response time minimized, it is possible for marketers to have quality conversations with their customers and provide them with valuable information on a continuous basis. Any queries, feedback or concerns can be addressed immediately using these channels. This improved quality and quantity of interactions over a period of time will win the trust of customers, which provides you with opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling your offerings. Coca-Cola is a brand that has demonstrated how social media engagement with a loyal fan base can lead to incremental sales for a company. From their experience they found out that Facebook fans are twice as likely to consume and ten times as likely to purchase a product, and when these fans are activated and marketing efforts are directed towards them, the sales needle moves significantly. With their social media efforts dedicated to their social fan base, they found that consumption rose by 7%, and purchases rose by 10% for the brand.
- Loyalty and Advocacy
It is found that the most popular reason for liking pages on Facebook is to receive intimations of discounts and rewards. Marketers can capitalize on this and use social media channels to reward their customers by providing them with an incentive to continue following and interacting with them online. Before Burberry’s historic tweetwalk where they simultaneously tweeted and released their newest collection of fashion wear, they used Facebook to give their loyal fans an exclusive sneak peek into what the collection holds for them. They made an excellent use of their social media catchment by making their fans feel special by giving them something of value not available to others.
It is essential that while using social media marketing objectives for your products and services, you keep in mind that it is not as important to use a large number of social media channels as it is to use the right channels for meeting your objectives. But most importantly it is important to view it as a piece of the overall puzzle, and integrate social with other channels to reap maximum benefit.
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