Today, social media is one of the most used concepts in the world of communication. It helps us to organize our personal lives, to carry out communication activities of a brand, to make friendships, to organize campaigns for marketing activities. Whether it’s end-consumer or business-focused, social media’s share of brands in marketing strategies is increasing day by day.

Many case studies in the world show that social media is not only an end-consumer attraction anymore. On the contrary, B2B companies have examples of success created in this regard.

Here is an example? We might ask ourselves “Why would a container shipping company need social media? Maersk Line, a Danish company of Maersk Group, which has more than 150 thousand employees worldwide, and besides transportation, conducts four major operations such as energy, oil and drilling started their social media journey with this question in 2011. A change in the B2B marketing communication world had begun that exact day.

The company is following a remarkable strategy indeed. According to their strategy, their goal is not ‘to win or buy customers’ but ‘to get closer to their them’. Then, consulting with Mc Kinsey, they settle on using ‘all the potential of social media’ via using it in 4 main areas; communication, customer service, sales and internal communication. They plan to take part in 10 social media networks, but they also divide them into segments. (Fans, customers, employees, specialists) So, each field has a clear idea of what the brand wants to accomplish, and they publish content that will be improved accordingly.

The plan, which started in 2011, has given some serious results. More than 1 million Facebook fans with an engagement rate between 5% and 10%, the employees’ constantly generating content and resulting in reputation, positioning managers, being a reliable source of news (first news of a Maersk ship hitting a whale has spread from corporate page); all of these achievements have brought Maersk the best social media award in Europe last year. The most important feature that emphasizes the company is the huge success it has shown in the B2B segment, despite, not being a brand for mass consumption.

What we need to take away from this little story is perhaps; whether it’s B2C (Business to Customer) or B2B, brands should give up the perception that social media is just a “fun area” for consumers.

B2B companies want to increase brand awareness, but they are neither very competent nor active. In fact, this statement is more relevant for Turkey, yet it has gradually begun to lose gravity on a global scale. For example, a research conducted by the ClearPoint company in the US reveals that B2B companies actively use social media. Their goals are different. In the survey, 79% of B2B companies use social media to increase their brand awareness, and 74% use the platform to find and acquire customer companies. Other goals that enable companies to exist in social media include identifying customer potential by 74% and increasing customer loyalty by 64%. Another remarkable point in the research is the formation of LinkedIn, the most heavily used social network among B2B companies. 83% of employees actively use LinkedIn while Facebook and Twitter users are 80%. In another survey conducted by the consulting agency Ascend2’s marketing professionals, 40% of participants who responded the question about what the strategy should be applied in social media as creating a blog/article, think that content should be used in B2B and 36% in B2C.

“Right timing” and “right strategy” are actually keywords. At this point, many companies continue to perform traditional marketing activities, on the other hand, they have discovered the power of social media in B2B marketing. Some of the brands have their corporate blog, and some brands have a Youtube page. They publish customized content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, share videos they produce via a Youtube channel for a specific reason; using the right tools to reach contemporary company goals. Whether you are a bearer, an automotive spare parts manufacturer, or a manufacturer of urban furnishings, it’s much easier to achieve your goals with a well-defined digital communications strategy.
Some of the results of the above-mentioned research actually points out why B2B social media management is a serious job. According to the results:

  • 81% of B2B companies have social media accounts.
  • 75% of B2B companies use Twitter.
  • 93% of investors and customers think that all companies should have social media accounts.
  • 9 of 10 customers are also doing research on social media when they decide to purchase.
  • 37% of customers are trying to get information via social media platforms before the purchase.
  • 93% of the customers are starting to research on Google.
  • 6 out of every 10 customers are doing more than 3 searches a day on Google.
  • 53% of the sales are made through the internet without any support from the marketing department.

 

The importance of content marketing in B2B

In 2014, 93% of the marketing departments of B2B companies reported that they effectively use content marketing.
B2B marketers have to use social media effectively to spread their content. The following diagram shows which platforms are most used in relevant studies.

 

Corporate goals of B2B companies are as follows:

Content marketing is more important than you think. It is not enough for B2B companies to perform SEO or own a blog. Actually, there is a need for a more integrated marketing network and structure as seen in the table below.

There are many articles written on B2B marketing and most of them have a very distant approach or attitude especially towards the digital world. However, an article published in the Aurora magazine on May 2, 2014, called “Why are B2B marketers failing in social media?” explores this subject. According to this article, there is basically no big difference between B2B and B2C. The job is getting stuck in the right targeting. Getting the right content to the right audience is the main concern in both types of marketing.

Proof? An Instagram photograph of GE sharing a jet engine got over 3,000 likes and 500 comments. Period. Any content that makes people feel good and creates a desire for sharing is doing a great job for marketers. As a result, consider yourself as a B2B worker and try to answer the following question: If I was the target audience, what kind of content would I care for? The answer to this question will actually lead you to the right content.

Social Media Practices for “Lead Generation”
Did you know?
• 23% of Internet users spend their time on social networks and blogs.
• 20% of those using the Internet for business are starting to use social networks instead of email for personal messaging.
• 83% of marketers are investing in social networks to increase their brand awareness.
• 69% of marketers are investing in social networks to increase website traffic.
What to do in Social Media for Lead Generation:

• Use multiple channels
• Develop a strategy
• Do research about your target audience
• Create content and practice content marketing
• Interact with others
• Do cross-promotion
• Follow the results (Social Media Monitoring)
• SEO

The content produced by B2B marketers is described in the infographic below.

 

 

 

Conclusion:

Today, it seems that there is a question mark in the minds of B2B companies’ department managers and employees; “will it work?” related to the projects they tend to execute in social media. However, it is not a matter of succeeding or failing, this operation has to be done in terms of accurate and effective communication. Yes, we are much more familiar with B2C companies’ work on social media channels, but B2B companies have recently begun to focus seriously on social networks.

B2B companies should use social media to create brand awareness, increase social interaction, brand trust, and follower numbers, rather than using it for direct sales. It is of great importance for these companies to share content and their expertise on social media, to have managers writing and sharing corporate visuals because that is the way to attract and reach more people who can always reach or influence others even if they are not directly targeted.

Finally, companies with a B2B way of working should immediately start to deal with Social Media!